MACA Denounces Michelle

I am sure most of you have heard of this by now, it's almost a month old. I had been waiting to see if Michelle would, like, say something back, but she clearly has chosen to ignore this tripe.

The Executive Director of the Mid America CropLife Association, Bonnie McCarvel, as well as Janet Braun, the Program Coordinator for the CropLife Ambassador Network (which is the educational community outreach program of MACA--these are the people who send speakers to schools and other places to teach about industrial agriculture), sent a letter to Michelle (I can use her first name, she's my neighbour) saying "Hey, why is your garden organic? Look at the agriculture industry and how much we've done for you, we know how to farm, you should use chemicals or not have a garden at all! The food tastes the same, anyway, and it's not like you or anyone else has time to farm, so you should just give it up. Think about it, we put a lot of money into the economy. ::shakes fist::"

There's no mention of this letter on CAN or MACA's website, nor has the White House responded. It's probably just going to be ignored. It's clearly ridiculous.

Props to Michelle for rousing the ire of an entire industry!

I understand the amazing amount of technological advances that came about by trying to improve agricultural practices. The Haber-Bosch reaction, for one, not only allowed for easy access to nitrogen fertilizers, it also helps in generating explosives for warfare purposes. (I think I have a photo of a bust of Bosch from the farm I lived on in Germany...) Hell, if we didn't have industrial agriculture, we wouldn't have a buttload of all the "green" technologies that are being developed now--we wouldn't have the need or background to develop them, because we wouldn't have (so soon) come to the point where they're needed to clean up the mess we've made of the Earth. So, props to agriculture for developing amazing technology and necessitating the development of further amazing technology.

But, that doesn't mean there isn't a place for the hobby gardener. I mean, really. If you look at what Michelle is planting, it's just herbs and some lettuce, with a couple of peas, carrots, broccoli, onions, and berries thrown in. There aren't even tomatoes, seriously! That isn't very threatening, I wouldn't think. I don't see any cows, or sheep, or cotton, or corn, or chickens running around.

I'd like to see a barn and livestock at the White House. I really would. But Michelle's garden isn't a threat. Not yet. Maybe later, when it starts taking up all of DC's national parkland (some streets, like Pennsylvania Avenue, are technically run by the National Park Service, according to this guy Ed, whom I met at the Cherry Blossom Festival and who organizes the recycling efforts during such events).

The letter is below for your viewing pleasure:


March 26, 2009
Mrs. Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mrs. Obama,

We are writing regarding the garden recently added to the White House grounds to ensure a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables to your family, guests and staff. Congratulations on recognizing the importance of agriculture in America! The U.S. has the safest and most abundant food supply in the world thanks to the 3 million people who farm or ranch in the United States.

The CropLife Ambassador Network, a program of the Mid America CropLife Association, consists of over 160 ambassadors who work and many of whom grew up in agriculture. Their mission is to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. Many people, especially children, don't realize the extent to which their daily lives depend on America's agricultural industry. For instance, children are unaware the jeans they put on in the morning, the three meals eaten daily, the baseball with which they play and even the biofuels that power the school bus are available because of America's farmers and ranchers.

Agriculture is the largest industry in America generating 20% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Individuals, family partnerships or family corporations operate almost 99% of U.S. farms. Over 22 million people are employed in farm-related jobs, including production agriculture, farm inputs, processing and marketing and sales. Through research and changes in production practices, today's food producers are providing Americans with the widest variety of foods ever.

Starting in the early 1900's, technology advances have allowed farmers to continually produce more food on less land while using less human labor. Over time, Americans were able to leave the time-consuming demands of farming to pursue new interests and develop new abilities. Today, an average farmer produces enough food to feed 144 Americans who are living longer lives than many of their ancestors. Technology in agriculture has allowed for the development of much of what we know and use in our lives today. If Americans were still required to farm to support their family's basic food and fiber needs, would the U.S. have been leaders in the advancement of science, communication, education, medicine, transportation and the arts?

We live in a very different world than that of our grandparents. Americans are juggling jobs with the needs of children and aging parents. The time needed to tend a garden is not there for the majority of our citizens, certainly not a garden of sufficient productivity to supply much of a family's year-round food needs.

Much of the food considered not wholesome or tasty is the result of how it is stored or prepared rather than how it is grown. Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical. Local and conventional farming is not mutually exclusive. However, a Midwest mother whose child loves strawberries, a good source of Vitamin C, appreciates the ability to offer California strawberries in March a few months before the official Mid-west season.

Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists, maintaining and improving the soil and natural resources to pass onto future generations. Technology allows for farmers to meet the increasing demand for food and fiber in a sustainable manner.

• Farmers use reduced tillage practices on more than 72 million acres to prevent erosion.
• Farmers maintain over 1.3 million acres of grass waterways, allowing water to flow naturally from crops without eroding soil.
• Contour farming keeps soil from washing away. About 26 million acres in the U.S. are managed this way.
• Agricultural land provides habitat for 75% of the nation's wildlife.
• Precision farming boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.
• Sophisticated Global Positioning Systems can be specifically designed for spraying pesticides. A weed detector equipped with infrared light identifies specific plants by the different rates of light they reflect and then sends a signal to a pump to spray a preset amount of herbicide onto the weed.
• Biogenetics allows a particular trait to be implanted directly into the seed to protect the seed against certain pests.
• Farmers are utilizing 4-wheel drive tractors with up to 300 horsepower requiring fewer passes across fields-saving energy and time.
• Huge combines are speeding the time it takes to harvest crops.
• With modern methods, 1 acre of land in the U.S. can produce 42,000 lbs. of strawberries, 110,000 heads of lettuce, 25,400 lbs. of potatoes, 8,900 lbs. of sweet corn, or 640 lbs of cotton lint.

As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy and providing a safe and economical food supply. America's farmers understand crop protection technologies are supported by sound scientific research and innovation.

The CropLife Ambassador Network offers educational programs for elementary school educators at http://ambassador.maca.org covering the science behind crop protection products and their contribution to sustainable agriculture. You may find our programs America's Abundance, Farmers Stewards of the Land and War of the Weeds of particular interest. We thank you for recognizing the importance and value of America's current agricultural technologies in feeding our country and contributing to the U.S economy.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


Sincerely,

Bonnie McCarvel, Executive Director
Janet Braun, Program Coordinator
Mid America CropLife Association
11327 Gravois Rd., #201
St. Louis, MO 63126

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3 Responses to MACA Denounces Michelle

  1. Wow!! Man talk about total arrogance. The nerve of these people to even write such a thing and to think that it's acceptable.

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  2. Nerve, audacity, almost utter, unfathomable disregard for a consumer's right to choose how to acquire his or her produce, yes.

    I mean, seriously. If there's a large enough population looking for a certain type of product (in this case, organic, locally grown produce), then Mid America CropLife Association and the companies it represents should figure out a way to start developing and marketing products to that group, instead of further alienating themselves from ever being considered as a quality provider of goods and/or services. Such a horrible PR idea.

    And I was wrong, they did post it on their website (I just didn't find it at first).

    I love how no one commented until the gardeners started hearing about it, and then everything is more or less what I've been seeing around the interwebs (tm).

    This is a sad day for industral agriculture. And that sector was weathering the economic downturn so well, why did they have to shoot themselves in the foot?

    I do get it--what is being called "conventional farming" does allow for a greater crop yield from a lot less and, and a LOT more cheaply than organic farming does. But computers used to be crazy expensive too, and so did cars. But with further research and development (as "conventional" agriculture has had for a hundred or so years), who's to say even organic farming can't produce the same type of yield that "conventional" farming does today?

    It's all in what "we" find important. And by "we" I mean the government funding agencies that throw money into agricultural, energy, and health research. When the government decides what direction to take, that's where the money will go, and the companies will shift their focus to get the most money they can (like a plant bending to get as much light as possible).

    Sometimes the companies do it by themselves (like when consumers decide to go with alternatives rather than the "standards"), but you can't always rely upon that, of course. It's not really the fault of the big companies. They are what they are, and their intent is to generate revenue by any means possible.

    We just have to show them that their revenue generation needs to take human health and prosperity into consideration, or else we won't purchase stuff from them.

    I'm allergic to pesticides used on apples and pears. That is one of the only reasons I switched to organic produce. But once I opened that floodgate, I switched over pretty quickly. Most of my buying is off the record--I get it directly from the farmers. If enough people do that, industry will notice. People don't just suddenly stop buying food--they'll know that people are going directly to the source, and they'll adjust. Big companies always adjust (or get bought by those that know how to adjust better).

    Hm, I'm all Benadryled up at the moment.

    /rant

    sleep

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