Saturday, December 3, 2016

Post-Truth and Ag Policy: Boulder County Colorado

I've known of the stewing agricultural pressure cooker known as Boulder County, Colorado for several years, and this week the inevitable happened.  Affluent city dwellers have used post-truth emotional arguments to denounce scientific and agricultural experts, placing their Whole-Foods-informed truthiness above evidence. 

The county harbors 25,000 acres of farmland, most of it under needed irrigation.  The space has been greened by annual plantings dominated by corn and sugar beets.  Over the last two decades these crops have transitioned to genetically engineered (familiarly "GMO") seeds that bear traits to limit farmer costs and reduce environmental impacts. 

Boulder County plans to restrict farmer seed choice based on politically-motivated, emotionally driven rhetoric that denies basic scientific facts.

But last week a county council voted 2 to 1 to 'phase out' the use of genetically engineered seeds, putting restrictions on farmers about the plants they choose to grow.  

I won't try to tell the story in its entirety, but I want you to please read this post by area farmer Fameur Rasmussen Jr.  He is a member of Farmers Alliance for Integrated Resources, a collection of area farmers that has united to present a codified voice in county politics.   His post is a testament to the post-truth decisions in agriculture foisted on farmers by those that know nothing about farming. 

I've spoken to this group. They are impressive, dedicated, and understand the science. I really feel for them now. 

Get to know this story.  This is the most prominent example of government overstepping into a private business decision, limiting choices for farmers because -- well, "Because we said so." 

In conclusion, many of my friends and colleagues wonder how Hillary Clinton lost the election.  This is a key example of why.   It is frequently embarrassing to be a progressive when those of similar stripes ignore (or outright deny) evidence.  On the other hand, the farmers affected by left-leaning, science-free policy  vote in droves in an effort to protect their interests from clueless ideologs aflamed to interfere with their operations.

Those that claim to be forward-thinking progressives best reign in their policymakers.  Ignoring science and evidence is a dangerous place that will only backfire.  

Science is not a democracy.  We don't vote on what's true.  Evidence matters. 

Science always wins.