Every day is Earth Day

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Earth Day is April 22, marking the 52nd anniversary of the “environmental movement” and encouraging people to think of ways to go “green.” There are trash pick-up and recycling events worldwide on Earth Day, and for some, the annual event is the only time they think about improving the planet. For farmers and ranchers, however, every day is Earth Day. 

Farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists, and they are dedicated to being good stewards of the earth. The agriculture industry is tied to the land, so it only makes sense for farmers and ranchers to want to do what they can to protect it, but there have been a few bumps along the way. 

The Dust Bowl in the Plains in the 1930s showed the world just how important it is to do everything possible to preserve the soil. It led to the establishment of the Soil Erosion Service and the Prairie States Forestry Project, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in 1935. 

The loss of soil spiked again in the 1950s and 1970s, but improved agriculture practices have dropped wind and water erosion of cropland by 43 percent since 1983, according to the NRCS.

Today, words like sustainable and regenerative have become part of the agricultural vocabulary and have helped American producers become even better stewards of the environment, improving their farms and ranches in the process. There continues, however, to be a huge divide between agriculture and environmentalists. 

Environmentalists blame farmers and ranchers for everything wrong on the Earth, and farmers and ranchers push back because they feel attacked for doing what they think is best for their land. The two sides should come together and see they have many of the same goals. 

Environmentalists want clean water. So do farmers. Farmers want to improve soil quality. So do environmentalists. Environmentalists want to improve the Earth for future generations. So do farmers. 

Environmentalists and farmers do differ on some issues, such as “rewilding” some areas. According to Protect the Harvest, rewilding is the planned reintroduction of a plant or animal species, such as the gray wolf or lynx, in an “effort to increase biodiversity and restore the health of an ecosystem.”

I disagree with reintroducing wolves to the Ozarks, not just for farmers and livestock, but also for people, pets and other wildlife. I guess that’s one of those “agree to disagree” topics. 

I encourage each of you to take a look at your farming or ranching operation to see how you can help improve the environment, which will enhance the quality of your land. These improvements can help reduce costs in the long run as well. 

Do a little reach on rotational grazing. Don’t overgraze. Be mindful of how you use chemicals and where you apply them. If you can drill in a cover crop, do it. Try some different forages, and recycle or repurpose what you can; become your own environmentalists.

There’s only one Earth, and it’s up to us to work together to keep it happy and healthy. We need to make it a point to make every day Earth Day.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected].

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