It’s time to the end food fight and make progress

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - Com­mu­nity Voice By FROM: STEVE LE­VIT­SKY

Sal­is­bury

Last month, Per­due had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in two pan­els fo­cused on agri­cul­ture and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay en­vi­ron­ment: the tongue-in-cheek­ti­tled “Food Fight” spon­sored by the East­ern Shore Land Con­ser­vancy, and “Can Food Pro­duc­tion and a Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Co­ex­ist?” spon­sored by the Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­ment and So­ci­ety at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in Chestertown, the Sas­safras River As­so­ci­a­tion and Ch­ester River As­so­ci­a­tion.

Our fel­low par­tic­i­pants in these two fo­rums in­cluded many who have been crit­i­cal of agri­cul­ture and poul­try pro­duc­tion: the Virginia East­ern Shore­keeper, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group, Fair Farms Coali­tion and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion. We were joined by Trey Hill, a Maryland grain farmer rec­og­nized for pro­gres­sive en­vi­ron­men­tal prac­tices, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of lo­cal food pro­duc­tion and sourc­ing and aca­demic ex­perts.

That sounds like a lineup for a “food fight.” Ex­cept, we all came to this rec­og­niz­ing we have com­mon ground — lit­eral com­mon ground: the Del­marva Penin­sula and its farms.

There was gen­eral agree­ment that no sin­gle food sys­tem — large or small, lo­cal or mass-dis­trib­uted, or­ganic or con­ven­tional — is in­her­ently more sus­tain­able, or the one an­swer for the fu­ture. We need them all to sup­port a di­verse farm econ­omy and to meet mar­ket de­mands. As Josh Hast­ings, Pol­icy Man­ager of the East­ern Shore Land Con­ser­vancy, said, “We have the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate our own vi­sion” for the fu­ture of Del­marva agri­cul­ture.

Both events were in stark con­trast to what we of­ten see in the news. Ab­sent was fin­ger point­ing. There was recog­ni­tion of the progress made in many ar­eas, in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture. We didn’t agree on ev­ery­thing, but there was a clear sense that con­tin­ued progress in clean­ing up the Bay re­quires work­ing to­gether to ad­dress all the sources of run-off, in­clud­ing lawn fer­til­izer, stormwa­ter, fail­ing waste­water treat­ment plants, land-ap­plied sewage sludge and chem­i­cal and nat­u­ral farm fer­til­izer.

We want to thank the East- ern Shore Land Con­ser­vancy, the Sas­safras River As­so­ci­a­tion, the Ch­ester River As­so­ci­a­tion and the Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­ment and So­ci­ety for cre­at­ing fo­rums where di­verse pan­elists, var­ied stake­hold­ers and broad au­di­ences came to­gether to talk about that fu­ture vi­sion. We ap­pre­ci­ated the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate, and look for­ward to be­ing part of sim­i­lar events.

We also prom­ise to keep im­prov­ing, just as we have been re­cy­cling poul­try lit­ter, elim­i­nat­ing all rou­tine use of an­tibi­otics, chang­ing the way we think about rais­ing an­i­mals and ex­pand­ing or­ganic pro­duc­tion.

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