While Earth Day was last Friday, the leader of an agricultural-environmental group says for farmers in Nebraska and elsewhere, every day is Earth Day.
John Peck, spokesman for Family Farm Defenders, offers one example of why smaller farms and ranches are more efficient and better for the planet.
“Most of our small farmers don’t see manure as a waste product,” Peck says. “For them, it’s a resource because they use it as fertilizer on their fields.” Large-scale farms may have hundreds or even thousands of cows, which can lead to millions of gallons of run-off, creating lagoons of waste.
Peck says one way Nebraskans can help support small-scale agriculture and the environment is to buy their food from local producers.
“Every day, people make a choice about what type of Earth they want to see with their food dollars,” Peck says. “Now’s a good time, with farmers markets just starting, people are thinking about gardening. Now’s a chance to live lightly on the earth. Grow your own food and if you can’t do that, give your money straight to a farmer and get some good, healthy, local food.”
He says large-scale farming operations have the potential to bring health problems to nearby residents, in addition to pollution.
“These giant lagoons sometimes overflow,” Peck says. “The groundwater contamination, fishkills, you have hydrogen sulfide ammonia plumes up to seven miles downwind from these farms.”
Family Farm Defenders is a national grassroots organization with members in all 50 states. The group’s website says: “Healthy safe accessible food is a basic human right and all communities should be able to control their own food/farm system. ”