Letter to the editor: Time to employ more earth-friendly farming methods

Reading the articles and letters in the Addison Independent regarding the roadside mosquito spraying, I was rather amazed that anything as toxic as Malathion was still in use. I was glad to see the rebuttals from such highly regarded and credible authorities as Marc Lapin.
The issue prompted me to reflect back on my farming experiences going back to when much greater numbers of wildlife were still flourishing. In the early fifties, I rode the still-used horse drawn equipment, then pulled by the 1931 Hart Parr tractor operated by my uncle, Merritt, the farm manager. It gave me a lot of opportunity to observe the sky, which was full of myriad flying insects and the numerous barn swallows and chimney swifts deftly snatching them from the air. The area, along the Long Island Sound shoreline, was home to many large tracts of salt marshes and numerous osprey nests. I loved to watch the “fish hawks” as we called them, do their kamikaze-like plunges into the mill pond and emerge with unsuspecting fish.
We had a small herd of almost strictly grass-fed Guernseys, bearing the same genetics as those in the Channel Isles — later ruined (in my estimation) by demand for higher production and the bogus fat scare. I would stand a teaspoon in a bowl of the delicious yellow cream, which never fell over during an hour-long meal. The neighbors flocked in to get the much-praised raw milk.
Moving to a farm in the Champlain Valley almost 40 years ago, I was rather shocked to see how much farming had changed. I was even more shocked to learn that the average cow in the confined operations lived only 6 years — far short of the almost 49 years a grass-fed Irish cow lived. Lifespan is now less than four years — a result of the extreme diet of grain and other impacts to their health. Meanwhile the mid-west soils, like the other grass lands of the world — once the second richest carbon sinks in the world — are being depleted of soil life and much of their carbon by chemically-based cropping, largely to feed confined animals. Manure from beef operations is often land filled, putting a great amount of methane into the atmosphere.
Despite all the debate about methane emitted by cattle, the carbon sequestered into the grasslands was the result of millennia of multi-species grazing, a process being revived by conscientious farmers. Author, Paul Ehrlick, estimates that 35 percent of climate change is caused by modern agricultural practices — closely approximating my estimation.
If only we had taken a lesson from the impact on populations of osprey and other raptors by the indiscriminate use of DDT, we wouldn’t see such a decline in bats and other species that accumulate harmful toxins. If we European invaders had drawn upon the wisdom of the indigenous people, who lived in relative harmony with Ma Nature for thousands of years, rather than waging upon them the worst genocide in history (still being conducted), we wouldn’t be witnessing the extreme climate change and mass extinction occurring.
Long ago, a prominent native chief reportedly advised the whites that if they continued soiling their nests, there would be grave consequences. The ongoing mass extinction is almost certainly due, largely, to the accumulation of chemical toxins in the bodies of the affected animals. Mosquitoes are a vital food for bats and frogs, among other animals. In turn, those animals have been a great boon to keeping mosquitoes in check. We have set up a vicious circle with our increasing addiction to better living through chemistry.
It is time to wise up and employ. much more earth-friendly methods of feeding ourselves and dealing with annoyances before we, as a species, join the mass extinction.
Joe Gleason

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