PITTSBURGH – July 1, 2012 — Crop types and agriculture might seem far from Pittsburgh and the committee rooms of the 220th General Assembly. But a discussion of a plan for perenialization of crops, brought to the committee by the Presbytery of Heartland, was on center stage before Committee 11 on Social Justice Issues.
The committee voted 47 to 4 to approve overture 11-03, On Endorsing a ‘A Fifty Year Farm Bill,’ in an amended form, and to send it to the assembly.
The overture is based on a plan by the Kansas based Land Institute. This plan seeks to move toward a longer-range view of sustainability in agriculture and crops. Currently, the Farm Bill, discussed and approved by the US Legislature every five years, does not, in the Land Institute’s view, take a view that is forward-looking enough.
“The Land Institute’s plan is based on agricultural and ecological principles that benefit the soil, water and living beings and uses perennial crops to promote critical soil processes such as retaining nitrogen and water,” explained Overture Advocate Diane Waddell.
These critical soil processes have been devastated by the current system of monoculture in crops and agriculture, which is highly dependent on chemical additives that have contributed to the phenomenon of ‘dead zones’ and ‘dead streams.’
One benefit of perennial crops and grains is the depth of roots of such planting—roots which are able to retain both water and minerals and prevent the need for digging and tilling on an annual basis.
Committee 11 voted to send the resolution to the assembly with a modified amendment that was originally recommended by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP).