Saturday, January 06, 2007

Local Agricultural Politics

We interrupt our regular ag blogging to insert some ag political news from the region:

The first hot topic around these parts has to do with the ability of local Virginia wineries to continue to distribute their own wines in the region. It seems that in 2005, a federal judge decided that the VA wineries had to use and pay distributors, as they had an unfair advantage over vintners from other states.

You can read about it, here and here.

When we first purchased this farm, my husband wanted to start a vineyard and winery. We did a lot of research; learned that the topography and altitude was perfect; and took a tour of wineries in the State to learn more.

It seemed to me that the capital outlay would be massive and I was, and still am convinced that grape growing cannot be done organically, so we shelved the idea.

Others in our area have gone ahead, at great expense and labor, to create very nice wineries and steady farm income -- a laudable feat -- only to have the big boot of government come down on them from above. Public opinion seems to be on the side of the farmer/vintners for now, and hopefully, the laws will return to allow self-distribution of Virginia wines. That would promote one solid new agricultural industry in the area and, in effect, protect a lot of agricultural land from development.
The second topic getting a lot of attention in the region is the application of “biosolids” (sewer sludge) on cropland. You can read about it here.

It seems that farmers have the right to do this in Virginia, even though in my opinion it is simply a stupid risk to take on food crops. New federal laws regulating the ocean dumping of sewage seem to be pushing corporations and municipalities to try to find new ways of dealing with sewage disposal. This is a big problem throughout the country and I hope that good solutions will eventually be found. In the meantime, I’m wondering if large flower farms might have better use of the stuff than farmers growing food crops and/or cattle forage.

Now, if they figure out a way to make BIOFUEL out of "biosolids" the problem will be solved!


Anonymous said...

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits and safety of biosolids and their use on farms in Virginia, you may want to look at The land application of biosolids is nothing new. It is backed by more than 30 years of science and experience.

Redhen said...

I will read with an open mind. However, it seems so much safer and saner to use composted waste from other species on our food crops. Basic science tells us that there is e-coli and other disease causing organisms that are species specific. Heavy metals are also found in sludge, as hospital waste is a part of the waste stream. Some have countered that chemical fertilizers also contain heavy metals in greater amounts. I won't use either sludge or chemical (man-made) fertilizers as long as I can compost natural materials on my farm.