‘Silent tsunami’ and protection of farmland

By Ralph Surette
The Chronicle Herald (Canada)

The NDP government has blocked a move to develop lands designated as agricultural in King’s County. The reasons given were in the technical language of zoning regulations. But this is no mere local question. Rising food prices and in­creasing trouble in the whole vast reality to which food is central is now one of the world’s biggest problems — a “silent tsunami” as The Economist mag­azine called it — a part of the larger issue of climate change and resource depletion.

Food prices are at their highest levels ever and poised to rise higher (eight per cent in Canada, for now). This news was work­ing its way to prominence a few weeks ago when other events washed over it — upheavals in the Middle East (of which food prices are a cause), catastrophe in Japan (of which a compro­mised food supply is a conse­quence), and election uproar in Canada (where this should be an issue, but isn’t).

There’s both a downside and an upside to this. The downside blew open in 2008 when there were food riots in many coun­tries because of rising prices.

Because of the recession and a good grain harvest, things stabi­lized in 2009. But last year trou­ble resumed, mainly because of droughts and floods, as the world consumed 60 million tons of grain more than the 2,180 mil­lion it produced, drawing down stocks. This year, according to some estimates, we’ll need as much as 150 million tons more just to return to stability.

That much extra production has happened in a few fluke years over the past decades, but it won’t this year. Although corn and rice are expected to increase somewhat, the main wheat crop is winter wheat — planted last fall for this year — and that’s already compromised by drought in the main breadbaskets of Russia, China and the Southwest U. S.

Increasing climate mayhem, irrigation running dry in some countries (the World Bank says 175 million people in India are being fed with grain grown by overpumping aquifers), erosion and desertification in some oth­ers, corn being used for fuel, yields-per-acre having levelled off in the advanced countries, phosphorus for fertilizer getting scarce, 80 million more mouths to feed every year and a couple of billion more in Asia moving up to the Western-style banquet table: all this doesn’t add up.

Further, international corpora­tions are scouring the Earth for farmland, especially in poorer countries, an indication of its rising value.

Read full post at The Chronicle Herald

4 responses to “‘Silent tsunami’ and protection of farmland

  1. You do not mention if it is private or corporate that wishes to develop the farm-land… so, that makes me think it is private or small entities pursuing this and am also certain, if it were in the interest of big Ag there wouldn’t be any snags in the zoning.

    As to eating less meat… if i spend $100 a year on meat, that’s a lot. Still, if you stick to the best teacher of all (nature) the best use of land is plant/animal farming. Animals and plants are on this planet together for a reason… the universe does not waste. That tells me that animals and vegetables complete each other… it is a cycle… don’t mess with it.

  2. Is Durette groveling before UN’s agenda 21? Is he warming us to embrace the crap of CODEX?

  3. Nice post.
    As a side note please remember it is not farmers or large farm corporations that set food prices. It’s a simple supply and demand system fueled mostly by by both local and international stock market traders.

    No one ever ask a farmer what is a fair price to pay for your produce, whether it be a bushel of wheat or a flat of fresh tomato’s.

  4. Gorw your own, raise your own and OPT OUT!

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