“We need to produce as much to feed the world as we can, but also people like to eat locally grown foods, too, so there’s a case for both sides of agriculture,” says Greg Rinehart, a farmer in Boone County, Iowa.
The United States is the world’s leading producer and exporter of corn, which is used as livestock feed to support the increasing demand for meat in China, India and other countries with growing middle classes.
The Dust Bowl of the 1930s left an indelible mark on the Midwest and on history. It is the drought against which all others are measured. And it was a man-made disaster that could still offer lessons today.
When Congress recessed for the election season without passing a new farm bill, many observers thought farmers would demand explanations as campaign trails blazed through small towns. But despite its importance in farm country, the farm bill and farm policy are largely being overshadowed by other campaign issues.
But with Monsanto’s introduction of Roundup herbicide and genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops in the mid-1990s, farmers gained a clear edge. The seeds, which were able to tolerate the herbicide, were adopted quickly. By 2011, more than 90 percent of soybeans and cotton, and more than 70 percent of corn were planted with Roundup Ready seeds.