Final Note and Redirection from Big Picture Agriculture

Farm at Duivendrecht by Piet Mondrian

Thanks so much for the loyal readership these past six years and thanks for the touching comments I’ve received on Wednesday’s thread “In the Bigger Picture” about my announcement that this site will be ending May 1st. Your comments have meant a lot to me.

This was not a sudden decision and life is meant to keep changing. We all must go with the flow and I have other tugs at my time right now. We each have an imaginary jar filled with varying numbers of corn kernels, each representing a single day, and we are not privy to know how many kernels remain in our jar. I’m one of those persons who has many interests and I’ve dedicated six years of my life to the “cause” here but now it is time to move on.

Some of the impacts and opportunities that this site has afforded me have far exceeded my expectations. Allow me to share with you some of the highlights.

1. I had the privilege of confronting the Secretary of the Interior about biofuels land use changes in a small media room two years ago.

2. I’d like to think I helped play a part in seeing a policy change — the move by Congress to enact legislation to slow the plowing of the Dakota prairies — because of my breaking of the loss of CRP land story, along with photographer Rick’s help.

3. I’m read and followed by many top agricultural writers/journalists and many profs who are online today. Mark Bittman has used my news links on his NYT’s blog, and Michael Pollan followed me on Twitter back when he was only following 170, or so, people.

4. For the curious, daily hits to this site now exceed 4,000 per day, with over 400 daily returning visitors. While that is tiny by main stream media standards, it is a difficult achievement for a no name person like myself.

5. As of a few years ago, this site was accepted into Google News, where it has remained, which put it into a whole higher tier of credibility for readership and searches. They rarely accept a site with a single author and they don’t accept “blogs”.

6. Fairly early on, I was recruited as an interviewee for Room-for-Debate on NYTs. Fallout from that was an interview with AlJazeera live on European TV. A black limo picked me up at my house and took me to a studio with bright lights in downtown Denver for a Midnight interview. I’m not much for bright lights, but it was a thrill.

7. I did an opinion piece for CNN, too.

8. The silent ripple effects this site has had, I’m quite confident, far exceed the list above. Some of those (I’m confident to say) include helping subsistence farmers in remote regions of this world.

But, enough with the bragging and reminiscing.

Doing this has required an immeasurable amount of my time and energy. I’ve made sacrifices by prioritizing this over other things. Trying to maintain a high quality standard here has meant I’ve read more behind the scenes than you might imagine.

I’ve attempted to stand my ground as an independent thinker on the issues. My guiding principle has always been the defense of the environment because I’ve seen the policy-induced destruction of the Midwest, where I grew up. Policy is the only thing that really matters, and policy doesn’t seem to change much until there’s a crisis, a crisis like the dust bowl of the 30’s.

My other main purpose here has been to educate, and as I educated myself, I shared it with readers. What fun! This subject is so interesting. It is so interesting, in fact, that it has turned into a very hot subject and is now covered by every conceivable media outlet. The former focus on food has shifted to how food is produced. Everyone wants to know.

Now, humor me by allowing me to make some statements about the state of the world as I see it. Farming comes down to policy, economics, and is otherwise philosophical.

I agree with the message of Julian Cribb that ubiquitous pollution of every type is a big problem facing humanity. That includes the Ag-related poisons and the energy-related poisons. Ag and energy are life-sustaining, so their related pollutions present a conundrum. The same could be said for many of the other wastes and pollutants. Others are life-enhancing, such as the technological device you are reading this on.

I also think the biggest future humanitarian problem will not be running out of food or water (although groundwater squandering is an atrocity) but it will be mass migrations of people from regions that have exceeded their human carrying capacity. This condition will be ongoing and forever changing as the climate and populations in certain regions change.

I think that overproduction of commodities, and, in response, biofuels policies which eat up that overproduction are killing our future production capacity by destroying our topsoils (and much more). Because the world has the potential to grow a lot more food/commodities than it is currently, biofuels policies are the new critical issue, the current “Silent Spring”.

I think that the way in which climate change affects food production still has many unknown aspects.

I fear that the current movement towards urbanization everywhere around the world will come back to haunt us someday.

I believe that this world would be a better place if each person were involved in growing some of their own food and in cooking their own food with simple pure ingredients. The consequences of sugar addictions, processed food diets, prepared foods, and inactivity are dehumanizing.

But, we should all be grateful for today’s safe foods available at a low cost, with abundant choices, requiring little sweat from us. We should be grateful to those who do the hard work of growing our food and getting it to our stores. We should be grateful for the leisure this allows us. I’ve repeatedly said on this site that I think the greatest achievement of mankind is not going to the Moon, it is the modern grocery store.

While some people here probably don’t care much about it, there are quite a few fans of “Thursday is Luddite Photo Day at Big Picture Agriculture.” I, personally, love putting up those photos and hunting for the unique ones. That is still doable for me, so I will continue that over at my new simplistic site Old Farm Photos. If you are signed up for my E-mail subscriptions I will have them automatically redirected to the new site. And, I will thus still have a platform should I have something I’m dying to say or present or teach or share with you.

Best wishes,

Images: Balinese Subak Irrigation

Balinese rice terraces – part of Subak irrigation system. Wikimedia photo.

From Wikipedia:
Subak is the name of water management (irrigation) system for paddy fields on Bali island, Indonesia which was developed more than 1,000 years ago. For Balinese, irrigation is not simply providing water for the plant’s roots, but water is used to construct a complex, pulsed artificial ecosystem. Paddy fields in Bali were built around water temples and the allocation of water is made by a priest.

On June 2012, Subak, the irrigation system for paddy fields in Bali was enlisted as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Tegalalang rice terrace. Ubud Bali. Subak irrigation system. 2011. Wikimedia photo.

Go here to learn more about this complex irrigation system:

In the Bigger Picture….

K.M. Note: Today’s Earth Day Photo is by Rick, a photographer living in North Dakota who has been documenting the plowing of the prairie there.

14 Recommended Agricultural Links ○ ○ ○

1 . Even though U.S. farmland prices are down, rents have risen.

from Agrimoney

2 . Top 9 Ways Farmers Plan to Cut Costs in 2015.

by Ben Potter for

3 . New Ohio law aims to keep nutrient runoff from reaching Lake Erie.

by Tim Anderson for Knowledge Center

4 . Des Moines Water Works sued the leaders of three rural Iowa counties last month for nitrate contamination of drinking water supplies.

by Mitch Smith for NYTs

5 . India to get 24/7 farming TV to help disseminate information.

by Vibhuti Agarwal for WSJ

6 . Why is the German grocery store, Aldi, so popular?

by Ashley Lutz for Business Insider

7 . Hillary Clinton schmoozes with big ethanol interests in Iowa.

by Cindy Zimmerman for Domestic Fuel

8 . Rye whiskeys are rising in popularity.

by Michelle Locke for AP

9 . Which countries export organic corn to the U.S.?

by Alan Bjerga for Bloomberg

10 . California’s thirstiest crops.

by Justin Fox for BloombergView

11 . Bird flu hits Iowa chicken farm – 5.3 million chickens.

by David Pitt for AP

12 . How have global diets changed in the last 22 years?

by Shane Ferro for Business Insider

13 . Can what you eat help prevent Alzheimer’s?

a 1.5 minute WSJ Video

14 . Recommended Earth Day Read: Pinfeathers and Needles.

by Rebecca Terk-White for Listening Stones Farm

As the final news item today, it is with mixed emotions that I need to announce that this site will be ending on May 1st. Some of you loyal readers have been with me since I began my online work six years ago, and to each loyal reader here, I say a big thanks. It has been quite a journey. Current daily hits to the site have never been higher than they are now and that’s a good note to end on. I feel satisfied about what has been achieved on these many pages of publication, and for the caliber of readership, but now the time is right to move on. I WILL, however, BE CONTINUING the Luddite Farm photos at a new site: Old Farm Photos. From time to time, I may write a paragraph or point you to an article, too. Please follow me there.–Kay M.