My son has been assigned a conservation poster and the theme is "Soil to Spoon," basically why conservation is important to agriculture. We're looking for a free market capitalism approach? Any ideas or starting points?
Answer by Tom Lindholtz
Check out "The Skeptical Environmentalist." There is a section in the book on changes in world food production. The book is thoroughly footnoted to publicly accessible sources. I wouldn't be surprised if he can find everything he needs in that one source. It is a treasure trove of info, and all the better because the author was a founding member of Greenpeace who started out to prove the liberal meme and wound up discovering conservatives were right.
Answer by Natalie
I don't know if this will be helpful or not but my grandmother has owned 200 acres of farmland for longer than I've been alive and since she purchased the land it has been part of an ongoing conservation project in Wisconsin. The rules for her are that she can't use the land to grow any food crops for consumption by humans or animals for the duration of the term set by the government (usually 7 years) and she is compensated in the form of a property tax credit. Then she is also given a grant to maintain a certain number of hardwood trees per acre on the land as well as various ground cover plant species and fir trees to protect the soil of the surrounding working farmlands that may contain fertilizers and pesticides from eroding into the standing wetlands and moving waterways that run through the property and feed nearby lakes. But the property tax credit and the grant don't really cover the loss of not growing food on the land. So to make up for the loss, every year in late fall, we cut down about 500 fir trees and sell them to the local retailers. Then plant more in the spring. And we cut down all of the dead wood on the property and sell it as cord wood that people burn in their fireplaces. And she leases out portions of the land for people to hunt and trap in the spring and fall. By not growing food crops on the land, it keeps the land nutrient rich and maintains natural habitat for an endless number of birds, fish and animals that would have nowhere else to go if the land was tilled every year. And it helps out the surrounding farm families because there is less food being grown in the area, and so they can charge a little bit higher price to the retailers and more easily cover their expenses, and provide for their families. I hope this is helpful in some way. It actually seems like a pretty tough assignment.