What Do We Do with All This Poop?

Figure 1. Click to enlarge.

This post is the third in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.

What do we do with all this poop? This question has been central to the field of public health since its very inception. John Snow, the “father of public health,” ended a nineteenth-century cholera epidemic in London by deducing that the source of this disease was drinking water contaminated with sewage.

This important question is also part of the current debates in the joint House and Senate conference committee (see figure 1) on the 2018 Farm Bill. In this case, the poop under consideration is from farmed animals instead of humans. The House version of the next Farm Bill would Read More >

Does Ethanol Pollute the Environment … or Does Corn?

Which is the culprit? Ethanol or corn?

This is the third blogpost in the series, “Corn-Fed Cars: On the Road with Ethanol.”

When environmentalists complain about ethanol, they complain about the negative impacts of an ethanol economy: increased levels of nitrate, sediment and pesticide pollution, as well as decreased biodiversity and fewer small farms. Are these valid complaints? Or are they actually complaining about corn? Are we talking about “failed agronomy?”

First, some facts. The amount of land dedicated to corn today is at an all-time high. And so is the land in soybeans. The reason is clear: corn and soybeans are at all-time high prices and returns. The USDA is putting less emphasis on conservation reserve programs, and so farmers with their eyes on the bottom line are putting more land into corn and soybeans. Read More >