Friday, September 4, 2009

How Green are our Pastures?

The other day I was driving along a road I generally take home located just outside of town less than a mile. I went by the same field I have gone past for several years but that day I actually paid attention to everything around me. The field is several thousands of acres of rich farmland and it was sown to the hilt with corn. The stalks were tall, plump, full of corn. The other thing I noticed is that the stalks were being left alone, allowed to dry out and become somewhat stunted. It was then I realized that this mega-field of corn was not being grown for human or animal consumption but would soon be harvested for my gas tank.

Yes, corn, the one-time farming staple of our vast plains States and the foundation of every diet througout the world has become the foodstuff of machines.

Do I have a problem with this? Not really! However our farmers can make a buck and still meet an important need in the world's economy and environment is all well and good with me.

You see, what I have a problem with is this. Since I was, for once in my life, paying particular interest in this farmer's land as I was driving by I noticed one other important feature that is becoming a sad landmark throughout the midwest farming communities -- A For Sale Sign -- was also a part of the landscape.

Checking into the reasons why this land was up on the sales-block I learned that about a year ago the ever-expanding city has encroached on this parcel of land and enclosed it as part of the city through re-zoning. Now, what was once deemed land for farm use, making it eligible for certain tax benefits, is now just another piece of land within city limits subject to all kinds of land taxes.....and, anyone who even owns a small 130X60 lot of city land knows how expensive that is....so, you can only imagine what the tax bill for this farmer has become.

It would seem that there is no way this land could ever produce enough corn, soybean or any other kind of crop that will meet the endless money-pit known as city hall. The only thing left for the farmer? Sell the thousands of acres now inside city limits in hopes a developer will grab it up. If so the farmer will make more in that one land deal then his entire family made off that same land over the last 100 years. Of course, just how much of that money the farmer actually gets to keep will be left up to the city comptroller.

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