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Contra High Country News, yes, banning alfalfa IS the answer

Specifically, contra High Country News' Jonathan Thompson and specifically, banning Alfalfa from being irrigated off the Colorado River and tributaries.

Two years ago, HCN's editor at large Thompson claimed, straight up: 

So, banning alfalfa is not the answer.

And, I fired back at him.

Last year, a year later, the NYT of all people weighed in with a story on the Colorado's woes, that noted that livestock feed off all types uses a bit over half of total Colorado River basin usage.

And now, the LA Times, with more regional skin in the game than New York has, drops the hammer even harder. Alfalfa and other hay by itself — no corn, no milo, no other feedstocks — uses one-third the total water usage in the Colorado River basin.

And, more specific to the HCN plaint by Johnny Peace, who was looking at the San Juan River drainage in southwest Colorado? This:

In the upper basin states — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico — cattle-feed crops consumed 90% of all water used by irrigated agriculture on average.

Nails it.

Sadly, some of the researchers, like Brian Richter, while they get the math right:

“We need to get very serious about shifting to a different mixture of crops, and we need to reduce the overall footprint, the acreage of land, that is being used for farmland,” Richter said.

Miss the political science. This:

Richter said that as a scientist, he is reluctant to tell people what to eat, and thinks everyone should “act on their conscience.”

Is just wrong. The personally:

“Personally, once I started this research, I gave up beef consumption altogether,” Richter said.

Is nice. (I'm at near-zero on beef, and only modest-moderate amounts of pork.)

But, the other part? Wrong.

We use scientific information all the time to tell people not to do stuff. We use it, in another issue related to climate change, for private insurers to jack rates as hurricane and wildfire dangers increase.

Richter does get this right:

As the region’s water managers continue negotiating long-term approaches for reducing water use, Richter said it will be vital to create a fund with federal and state support to help farmers change crops or retire some cropland.

In other words, putting alfalfa on a glide path to extinction in the Colorado River drainage.

But, we should only do that in combo with other things, like the SEC requiring the ag sector overall to account for carbon emissions.

AND, in terms of the matter at hand? Contra that neoliberal nutter John Fleck, IMO, the new, post-2026 Colorado River Compact needs to get rid of the "Upper Basin" / "Lower Basin" division. Fleck, like Thompson, is also an alfalfa lover, per that second link.


And, it's on the other side of the Rockies, on the High Plains, but, Thompson, there's a replacement that's gaining popularity. Grow millet.

This post first appeared on SocraticGadfly, please read the originial post: here

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Contra High Country News, yes, banning alfalfa IS the answer


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