Sunday, June 11, 2017

It Won't Go Away Until We Make It

Sometimes it is strange how things come back around to you.  I have now had three different people ask me (recently) how things regarding our 2012 spray misapplication incident went.  The weather we've been having during the month of June is reminiscent of 2012 as well.  I am watching the pastures and lawn areas get browner - usually something reserved for Augusts in Iowa.  And then, Practical Farmers of Iowa released a series of YouTube videos that feature my good friend and respected farmer, Andy Dunham, and some other guy with a red hat.  THEN Liz at PFI suggested we submit our own op-ed in response to the excellent one by Zachary Michael Jack in the June 8, 2017 Des Moines Register.  I guess that means I should do something about the topic.

Can you find the Genuine Faux Farm?
The potential for misapplication of farm chemicals (and lawn chemicals) can have negative effects for each and every one of us, whether we farm vegetables or not.  And, if it isn't enough for you to be worried about your own health, consider this report that is the beginning of research that shows children are more susceptible to health issues because of the misuse of pesticides.  We shouldn't be surprised by these results.  In fact, I suspect most people who have ever given any thought to the topic EXPECTS there to be health issues that are related to these chemicals.

We have a problem.

And it will not go away unless we work to do something about it.

As I write this, I find myself thinking negatively about any number of things.  The problem seems unsolvable - even when I feel like it shouldn't be a problem at all.  Every year I get doses of the attitude that says "You live in Iowa, so deal with it.

But, I read the last lines I wrote in that post.

"We are better than this.  We are capable and innovative.   Now we just have to be willing to admit there is a problem and address it."

Chemical overuse and misapplication is a huge problem, which means we can't fix it immediately.  It will take more than one season of awareness and effort.  This is what I refer to as a "long-haul problem."  We've got to dedicate ourselves to doing the right thing and sticking with it year after year.  And, then, when we think we've got it figured out, we need to re-apply ourselves to keep it that way.

This fight is worth fighting because we aren't just standing up for ourselves - we're standing up for others who can't (or won't) stand up for themselves.  It's just beginning.

In my opinion, education and communication are ALWAYS key parts to solving any problem and Practical Farmers of Iowa has been working to build resources with respect to drift issues for the past several years.

Here is a short video that outlines these resources.  It is worth a few minutes to take a look and see what is out there.

And, our farm (Genuine Faux Farm) is not taking a vacation from the subject either.  For example, we volunteered to be 'drift catchers' for a season and we worked to get information about what others can do to try to make a difference (2015).

And, then, that crazy farmer with the red hat shows up in a series of videos available to the general public like this one:

I fully understand that the world is full of problems and that it is difficult to find the energy to care about it all.  If you are like me, it causes physical and mental pain to consider them.  Is it easier to give up because it is just too much?  If we allow ourselves to care, how can we manage to be happy and live a good life?  I get the feeling that many people get overwhelmed and take this approach ("There are just too many bad things, so I will ignore them and I'll feel better.")

Well, I challenge that premise.  Why?  Because the premise of "I can't deal with it so I'll ignore it" does nothing to help you be happy nor does it mean you will be allowed to live your "good life."

A better answer is to start learning about the problem NOW so you can be ready to act when the situation arises where YOU are placed in a position to do something.  But, what might some of those situations be that YOU could find yourself in?  Don't think it will ever happen?  Think again.

If you are in your vehicle on a road and it gets hit by droplets from a spray plane, you have just witnessed a chemical misapplication.  Watch the video with Liz and find out where you can go to report this incident.

If you have an opportunity to speak to a legislator, ask them about what their stance is regarding chemical misapplication.  By simply asking the question, you raise the topic to a level where they too might be ready to act when the right ideas come along.  If you have taken some time to learn some of the details, you can effectively advocate for change.

When you go to the doctor, you should ask them about what is known regarding agricultural and lawn chemicals and their impact on our health.  Perhaps you could encourage the medical community to begin sharing that information more readily?

If a friend, neighbor, acquaintance or family member tells you about a time when they were harmed by a misapplication incident, you should encourage them to follow through with the reporting process.  Take them to the proper linked resources.  Every rural Iowan has at least three incidents that they did nothing about because they either didn't know what to do OR they were afraid to rock the boat.

In the end, the reality is that farmers who use herbicides, pesticides and fungicides typically are not evil, "twirl the mustache and laugh a villain's laugh" people.  They want to do a job and they don't really want to hurt others.  But, somehow, we've gotten to a point where the use of chemicals is so prevalent we aren't thinking it is worth enough of our attention to make a difference.  Let's change that.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your input! We appreciate hearing what you have to say.