Agriculture Contains Public Enemies 2, 3 & 4

In life, it seems like there always needs to be a bad guy. Maybe it’s just human nature to look for some kind of public enemy when something goes wrong.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, the alcoholic beverage industry was Public Enemy No. 1. When I was growing up in the 1970s, the tobacco industry filled this role. Today, the fast food marketplace is getting much of the blame for U.S. societal ills.

For agriculture, this public enemy stigma is, unfortunately, all too familiar. Although our industry has never risen to the No. 1 spot on the hit list, it could be argued that crop protection products, fertilizer and biotech seed easily occupy spots 2, 3 and 4 in the public enemy ranking. For evidence, consider just these three recent examples:

  • Various environmental groups for the past few years have called for the banning of the herbicide atrazine — despite its 50-year track record —  because of a supposed link between it and environmental concerns.
  • A recent study entitled “Troubled Waters” by the Environ­mental Work­ing Group blames farming and its use of nitrate fertilizers for many of the nation’s current water issues.
  • The Save Our Crop Coalition, made up of 2,000 growers and food companies, is urging the USDA and EPA to delay the introduction of 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant crops — scheduled to appear during the next few years — because these could lead to an increased use of these herbicides by growers, potentially increasing the risk for spray drift issues.

In each of these instances, the public enemy moniker is being hung prominently on the necks of parts of our industry that are critical to increasing yields to feed, cloth and fuel global appetites. Discontinuing or preventing these products/practices would make the world a brighter, happier place for everyone, claim the critics, and all of us would be living in paradise on Earth.

But, going back to my first example, complete temperance in the early 20th century didn’t stop overdrinking and its associated problems. It merely pushed them into new, covert directions until Prohibition was repealed.

Banning atrazine, likewise, would cause soil problems. According to one University of Wisconsin-Madison study, using atrazine allows growers to reduce aggregate soil erosion by up to 85 million tons annually.

Regarding nitrate fertilizers, a study conducted by The Fertilizer Institute found that Illinois growers are producing 83% more corn using 40% fewer nutrients than they did 30 years ago.

As for the next generation of biotech crops, formulators such as Dow AgroSciences and BASF have pointed out that their new versions of 2,4-D choline and dicamba are enhanced with technologies to minimize the potential for physical drift.

It’s refreshing to see our industry being so proactive defending itself against these accusations. Hopefully, this will eventually remove some or all of these items from the public enemy hit list.

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Potash Agrium
Eric SfiligojBig Fertilizer Merger In The Works
September 12, 2016
If you are a fan of consolidation in agriculture, 2016 has been a banner year so far. Not only are Read More
Eric SfiligojThis Column Is Terrible
September 6, 2016
Does the negative always trump the positive in getting a reader’s attention? It would seem so based upon the evidence. Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
Eric SfiligojThe Read From MAGIE
August 29, 2016
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL. Being Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More