Register now on PaFlyFish.com! Login
HOME FORUM BLOG PHOTOS LINKS


Sponsors

Browsing this Thread:   1 Anonymous Users



(1) 2 »


Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2007/4/25 10:02
Posts: 5781
Offline
Thought this was an interesting article. Probably not a news flash for those who have been following this story for a few years.

Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
By SINDYA N. BHANOO, The New York Times
LANCASTER, Pa. -- With simplicity as their credo, Amish farmers consume so little that some might consider them model environmental citizens.

"We are supposed to be stewards of the land," said Matthew Stoltzfus, a 34-year-old dairy farmer and father of seven whose family, like many other Amish, shuns cars in favor of horse and buggy and lives without electricity. "It is our Christian duty."

But farmers like Mr. Stoltzfus are facing growing scrutiny for agricultural practices that the federal government sees as environmentally destructive. Their cows generate heaps of manure that easily washes into streams and flows onward into the Chesapeake Bay.

And the Environmental Protection Agency, charged by President Obama with restoring the bay to health, is determined to crack down. The farmers have a choice: change the way they farm or face stiff penalties.

"There's much, much work that needs to be done, and I don't think the full community understands," said David McGuigan, the E.P.A. official leading an effort by the agency to change farming practices here in Lancaster County.

Runoff from manure and synthetic fertilizers has polluted the Chesapeake Bay for years, reducing oxygen rates, killing fish and creating a dead zone that has persisted since the 1970s despite off-and-on cleanup efforts. But of the dozens of counties that contribute to the deadly runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, Lancaster ranks at the top. According to E.P.A. data from 2007, the most recent available, the county generates more than 61 million pounds of manure a year. That is 20 million pounds more than the next highest county on the list of bay polluters, and more than six times that of most other counties.

The challenge for the environmental agency is to steer the farmers toward new practices without stirring resentment that might cause a backlash. The so-called plain-sect families -- Amish and Old Order Mennonites, descended from persecuted Anabaptists who fled Germany and Switzerland in the 1700s -- are notoriously wary of outsiders and of the government in particular.

"They are very resistant to government interference, and they object to government subsidies," said Donald Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College who studies the Amish. "They feel they should take care of their own."

But the focus on the plain-sect dairy farmers is unavoidable: they own more than 50 percent of Lancaster County's 5,000-plus farms.

"It's been an issue over the last 30 years," Dr. Kraybill said. "We have too many animals here per square acre -- too many cows for too few acres."

For now, the environmental agency's strategy is to approach each farmer individually in collaboration with state and local conservation officials and suggest improvements like fences to prevent livestock from drifting toward streams, buffers that reduce runoff and pits to keep manure stored safely.

"These are real people with their own histories and their own needs and their own culture," said John Hanger, the secretary of environmental protection in Pennsylvania. "It's about treating people right, and in order to treat people right, you've got to be able to start where they are at."

But if that does not work, the government will have to resort to fines and penalties.

Last September, Mr. McGuigan and his colleagues visited 24 farms in a pocket of Lancaster County known as Watson's Run to assess their practices. Twenty-three of the farms were plain sect; 17 were found to be managing their manure inadequately. The abundance of manure was also affecting water quality. Six of the 19 wells sampled contained E. coli bacteria, and 16 had nitrate levels exceeding those allowed by the E.P.A.

Persuading plain-sect farmers to install fences and buffers underwritten by federal grants has been challenging because of their tendency to shy from government programs, including subsidies. Members neither pay Social Security nor receive its benefits, for example.

Word of the E.P.A.'s farm visits last September traveled rapidly through Amish country, Mr. Stoltzfus said, even though most plain-sect farmers do not have their own phones.

The farmers whom the agency visited declined to be interviewed. But Mr. Stoltzfus, whose brother-in-law was among them, said that as the news circulated, some farmers decided on their own to make changes in anticipation of intervention by the agency.

"I had never heard of the E.P.A. coming out to do inspections," he said. "I think these practices are going to be required more."

With help from the Lancaster County Conservation District, Mr. Stoltzfus applied for a government grant to help finance construction of a heifer barn with a manure pit. He expects the grant to cover about 70 percent of the cost.

But some Amish farmers were angered by the agency's intrusion and its requirements.

"It's certainly generated controversy," said Sam Riehl, a farmer in the area. "We wonder whether we are being told what to do, and whether the E.P.A. will make it so that we can't even maintain our farms."

Mr. Riehl said he had vowed never to accept a government grant. He does have a manure management plan and a manure pit, he said, although several of his neighbors do not.

Last year the federal Fish and Wildlife Service awarded $500,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to work with the farmers on switching to barnyard runoff controls, streamside forest buffers, no-till farming and cover crops. The money has been lucrative for local agricultural companies like Red Barn Consulting, which has used some of it to hold milk-and-doughnut sessions in barns for Amish farmers and drop off fliers door to door.

The firm's owner, Peter Hughes, and his employees instruct the farmers on manure management and do free walkthroughs to offer suggestions. In the last six months, Mr. Hughes said, his plain-sect clientele has soared from several dozen farmers to about 200.

Working with the plain sect presents challenges, Mr. Hughes said. For one thing, the group is deeply averse to salesmanship. Then there is the technological communication problem: most of the farmers share a phone booth along a road with several neighbors.

"I had one client who would call me at 5:15 every morning," he said. "That was his allotted time to use the phone, and that was the only way for us to talk."

Most days Mr. Hughes is on the road in his pickup visiting farmers. As he drives, he said, he is often struck by the dichotomy between a would-be pastoral ideal and the environmental reality.

"You see those cows and the fields, and it's beautiful," he said. "But then there's that big pile of manure sitting back there."

Mr. Stoltzfus hopes he is ahead of the game. By adopting new practices and building the manure pit, he thinks he can both help the environment and steer clear of E.P.A. interference.

At midday, Mr. Stoltzfus was placing a bowl of cut fruit into a propane-powered cooler in his backyard, one of the family's few concessions to technology. Hand-washed black pants and plain cotton dresses fluttered on a clothesline behind him. He offered a taciturn reflection on how quickly things had changed -- his willingness to accept the grant, for example.

"A while back, Old Order Amish would not participate in programs like this," he said, "but farming is getting expensive."

And then he ended the conversation.

"Is that all?" he said politely but coolly. "I have work to do."

It was milking time.



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10160/1064253-115.stm#ixzz0qMyut0nA

Posted on: 2010/6/9 11:24
_________________
I flyfish because I enjoy it.


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
Posts: 4423
Offline
it's about time. just because they don't drive cars doesn't make them environmental saints. I'm tired of hearing about them not having to play by the rules just because of religous beliefs. I have many amish living close to me, some are wonderful people, some are crooks and jerks. no reason they can't live by the same rules as the guy down the road.

Posted on: 2010/6/9 18:40


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/6/27 23:49
From Pittsburgh
Posts: 705
Offline
Im sorry but i think that the small scale amish farms sure aint yer problem. Crack down on the big ones first and then work with the amish to manage waste better....

Posted on: 2010/6/9 19:43
_________________
Im a Cane Head


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
Posts: 4460
Offline
I have a friend in Bedford County that has an organic "certified" farm , he raises beef , lamb , and chickens for meat and produce for sale also raises most of the feed his animals consume , organic certification is very hard to get and you have to be really serious about farming to struggle with the system , which tends to lean more in the direction of "big farma" when it comes to the rules and regulations. He says the Amish are the worst. He says they tend to buy up land , farm and fertilize with chemicals , until they burn the land out and then with their seemingly unlimited resources , just buy up more land and move on to the next. When my friend says they are the worst i gotta beleive , they are the worst.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 7:46


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/2/10 16:30
From SE PA
Posts: 4682
Offline
Quote:

osprey wrote:
I have a friend in Bedford County that has an organic "certified" farm , he raises beef , lamb , and chickens for meat and produce for sale also raises most of the feed his animals consume , organic certification is very hard to get and you have to be really serious about farming to struggle with the system , which tends to lean more in the direction of "big farma" when it comes to the rules and regulations. He says the Amish are the worst. He says they tend to buy up land , farm and fertilize with chemicals , until they burn the land out and then with their seemingly unlimited resources , just buy up more land and move on to the next. When my friend says they are the worst i gotta beleive , they are the worst.


That hasn't been my experience having grown up spending a lot of time on our family's farms. I know quite a few Amish farmers and I can't think of any that have "burned off" the land and moved on. The one we sold our old family homestead to has had it for over 30 years and is now giving it to his daughter. As the article above says some are embracing improved techniques and others may not be. I see the same thing with non-Amish farmers as I travel around the state. Some use good practices and some poor practices.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 8:30


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
Posts: 4460
Offline
franklin............i am not a farmer , don't claim to be one , but i know a few and the friend in Bedford is a serious farmer , i have to believe him. Most of our interaction with the Amish has been in bedford , fulton , franklin , cumberland counties perhaps things are different in the Lehigh Valley.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 9:06


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2007/4/25 10:02
Posts: 5781
Offline
I have no idea how they farm but I know they dont mess around when it comes to deer hunting.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 9:49
_________________
I flyfish because I enjoy it.


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2007/12/23 14:18
From Richfield, PA
Posts: 292
Offline
Or bear huntin. They'll line off the whole Shade Mountain. Orange seems to be mostly optional with'em too.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 10:39
_________________
Ephesians 4:32-"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you"

http://www.paundercurrent.com/
http://paundercurrent.blogspot.com/


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2006/9/10 21:53
From Greensburg, PA
Posts: 13623
Offline
Quote:

bikerfish wrote:
... some are wonderful people, some are crooks and jerks. no reason they can't live by the same rules as the guy down the road.


Its exactly the same here...except for the Amish part.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 10:46


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny
Moderator
Joined:
2006/9/9 9:29
From Monessen, PA
Posts: 22117
Offline
They're pigs, greedy, selfish, boring and standoffish, inbred, delusional, lazy and they smell bad. But other than that, I guess we can tolerate them.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 10:59
_________________
I don't like spinach, and I'm glad I don't, because if I liked it I'd eat it, and I just hate it. --Clarence Darrow


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2006/11/2 8:50
Posts: 6025
Offline
Quote:

BrookieBuster101 wrote:
Im sorry but i think that the small scale amish farms sure aint yer problem. Crack down on the big ones first and then work with the amish to manage waste better....


I agree. The operations with 1000 or 1500 or 2000 cows, or the equivalent in chickens or hogs, are a bigger problem, than the small Amish operations, IMHO.

The article is interesting, but it makes it sound like the water quality issues are an AMISH farming problem, when it's really a farming methods problem overall.

I think introducing ethnicity and religion into the discussion is not beneficial.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 11:36


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2006/11/2 8:50
Posts: 6025
Offline
Quote:

He says the Amish are the worst. He says they tend to buy up land , farm and fertilize with chemicals , until they burn the land out and then with their seemingly unlimited resources , just buy up more land and move on to the next. When my friend says they are the worst i gotta beleive , they are the worst.


Your friend is wrong. In SE PA there are many farms that have been continuosly farmed by Amish since the early 1700s.

There are problems with farming practices in general, on both Amish and non-Amish farms.

There is a great deal of predjudice against the Amish, as there is against any group or individual who does not conform. That predjudice is being displayed on this forum, unfortunately.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 11:44


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/10/15 12:02
From Dispositionally, one mile south of Lake LeBoeuf
Posts: 530
Offline
My experience with the Amish is limited to the ones who live not far from where I grew up. The Corry/Spartansburg/Titusville families. More of these folks were always in timber/sawmills, etc. than in raising livestock

I've always seen them in a generally positive light. But there are pros and cons, like in anything else.

Their means and methods can be rough on the well being of the resource and their unique standing under much of the law can make it awkward to deal with them on these matters. But no more so than dealing with the other folks who live in the same areas and also depend on the land for a living. That is to say, many of the "difficulties" with the Amish are just additional examples of the conflicts inherent to the rural/urban dichotomy and are not specific to the Amish.

One thing for sure is that the presence of the Amish and their willingness to keep so many small farms working has been good overall in tempering the influence of development and sprawl and that's a good thing. In a roundabout way, they are probably also good for hunters/anglers faced with diminishing access. They are much closer to the old model of farmers who used to allow you to enter their lands to hunt and fish than they are to the more recently emerging model of urban types buying up huge parcels of land and posting it because they can and because its theirs and then disappearing back into the concrete miasma and only visiting on holiday weekends.

But no, as Troutbert said, it is not a religious/ethnic thing. As I see it, its more of an urban/rural, workplace/playground thing.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 12:17


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/10/15 12:02
From Dispositionally, one mile south of Lake LeBoeuf
Posts: 530
Offline
A-kid: Black Butte Porter, huh? I'm not a drinker any more, but that was good stuff... Although my favorite was their IPA which I think is called Bachelor Bitter.

If you haven't been there, the Deschutes Brewery Public House (where they make the stuff) in downtown Bend is a must. They serve what may be the best burger I ever had. The only problem with the place is that the noise level inside is constantly around 90Db, which I have a rough time abiding.

Posted on: 2010/6/11 12:25


Re: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny

Joined:
2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
Posts: 4423
Offline
"They're pigs, greedy, selfish, boring and standoffish, inbred, delusional, lazy and they smell bad. But other than that, I guess we can tolerate them."

LOL!! don't hold back and sugarcoat it jack!!LOL
tell us how you really feel!LOL LOL

Posted on: 2010/6/11 13:42



(1) 2 »



You can view topic.
You cannot start a new topic.
You cannot reply to posts.
You cannot edit your posts.
You cannot delete your posts.
You cannot add new polls.
You cannot vote in polls.
You cannot attach files to posts.
You cannot post without approval.

[Advanced Search]





Site Content
Login
Username:

Password:

Remember me



Lost Password?

Register now!
Stay Connected

twitterfeed.com facebook instagram RSS Feed

Sponsors
Polls





Copyright 2014 by PaFlyFish.com | Privacy Policy| Provided by Kile Media Group | Design by 7dana.com