Going Green

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Environmental Farm Subsidies

The U.S. farm bill contains provisions aimed at protecting the environment.

Paying farmers to protect the environment?

FAO publishes The State of Food and Agriculture 2007

15 November 2007, Rome - Carefully targeted payments to farmers could serve as an approach to protect the environment and to address growing concerns about climate change, biodiversity loss and water supply, FAO said today in its annual publication The State of Food and Agriculture.

The report however cautions that payments for environmental services are not the best solution in all situations, and that significant implementation challenges remain.

“Agriculture employs more people and uses more land and water than any other human activity,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf in...(complete article here).

Crafting subsidies that balance the competing demands on agriculture is difficult. Food security, fuels, and the environment compete with each other for resources. Subsidy structures must balance the needs of each of these segments.

In the article it mentions the carbon sequestration role of agriculture. I wonder how large of a negative impact our push toward cellulosic based bio-fuels will have on this role? If we take corn stover and other plant biomass that would have been plowed back into the soil and instead convert it to fuel that will be burned, how much carbon is that removing from the soil?

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