A Fertilizer Trading Market?

The last fertilizer trading market, at the Chicago Climate Exchange, died and closed due to nobody wanting to buy the brand of fertilizer they were selling. Besides that example, I have to think this might not fare any better, simply because farmers really don’t want yet another intrusion into their lives by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

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From the University of Maryland:
Rewarding Eco-Friendly Farmers Can Help Combat Climate Change

UMD Study Advises State on Creation of ‘Nutrient Trading Market’

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Financially rewarding farmers for using the best fertilizer management practices can simultaneously benefit water quality and help combat climate change, finds a new study by the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER).

The researchers conclude that setting up a “trading market,” where farmers earn financial incentives for investing in eco-friendly techniques, would result in a double environmental benefit – reducing fertilizer run-off destined for the Chesapeake Bay, while at the same time capturing carbon dioxide headed for the atmosphere.

The study, Multiple Ecosystem Markets in Maryland, advises the state’s Department of the Environment how to set up a “nutrient trading market,” as proposed in the 2008 state climate action plan. This nutrient trading would operate alongside markets that sell carbon dioxide credits. The CIER study examines the effects of operating both markets simultaneously.

In these markets, farmers who reduce pollutants below a set level would earn credits. They would sell these credits to other operators, such as sewage and water treatment facilities or power plants that have difficulty meeting environmental targets. No direct government subsidies would be involved.

In these markets, farmers who reduce pollutants below a set level would earn credits. They would sell these credits to other operators, such as sewage and water treatment facilities or power plants that have difficulty meeting environmental targets. No direct government subsidies would be involved.

“Everybody can and should win from these markets,” says principal investigator Matthias Ruth, who directs the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Environmental Research. “This could represent an extra revenue stream for farmers, as well as an incentive to use the best nutrient practices that can help clean up the Bay and fight climate change. Taking these conservation steps costs the farmers money, and at the very least a reimbursement for their investment is well-deserved.”

Maryland is one of a handful of states considering whether to create these multiple markets. One key question for policy-makers is whether farmers who achieve reductions in watershed pollution while also capturing CO2 should be able to sell credits in both markets and, in effect, get dual payments for single action.

The study does not recommend a particular answer to this question, but offers policy-makers a series of scenarios – estimates of how the systems will work if farmers can participate in only one or both markets, and whether there should be thresholds before they can take part.

Another key question is whether sufficient carbon dioxide will be captured and traded to justify creation of the market. To determine this, CIER and the World Resources Institute developed a dynamic systems model and projected the likely volumes of carbon dioxide involved.

SPECIFIC FINDINGS

  • A “nutrient trading market” would lead to the capture of between one and two million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year by 2030, depending on how the market is set up;
  • In total, captured carbon would range from 12.5 to 21.6 million metric tons by 2030;
  • Only a portion of captured carbon would be traded in markets, depending on the stringency of the market rules; most likely, between seven and 23 percent of captured carbon would be sold;
  • Nutrient markets would generate more revenue for farmers than carbon dioxide markets. If rules limited participation to only one of these, carbon prices would have to be five to eight times higher than nutrient prices for farmers to forgo trading in nutrients and opt instead for carbon.

“As a practical matter, the carbon market will usually offer less financial reward than nutrient trading, because there isn’t that much CO2 captured in this way,” explains report co-author Rebecca Gasper, a CIER researcher. “To earn one water credit, a farmer must eliminate one pound of run-off pollutant. To earn one carbon credit, involves a reduction of one metric ton of CO2. It’s a lot easier for a power plant operator to achieve that than a farmer.”

DUAL BENEFITS

As an example of a best management practice providing the dual environmental benefit, the report points to conservation buffers – putting a green swath of trees or other plants between farm and stream to absorb run-off and filter out pollutants. But, this green buffer can also help capture carbon dioxide, and so help the state meet its CO2 reduction goals. Other practices likely to generate dual environmental benefits include conservation tillage, cover crops and wetland restoration.

Without a buffer, excess fertilizer often ends up in the watershed.

 

DUAL MARKETS?

The nutrient trading market would work similarly to the one set-up to reduce carbon emissions under RGGI, the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that Maryland has joined.

The fulcrum of the nutrient market is a target level called the Total Maximum Daily Load. It’s the maximum amount of phosphorous and nitrogen that Maryland farmers can allow to run into streams. The U.S. EPA is expected to finalize this target in December.

If a farmer uses more eco-friendly methods and produces lower levels of pollutants that fall below this target, these can be sold as credits to someone else who is running above the target level. The trade would take place in the nutrient market.

“Setting up this system will require a delicate hand,” says Ruth. “Farmers taking part will face a steep learning curve, and if the system’s too complicated or burdensome, they’ll likely not take advantage of it.”

“In carefully thinking through the options for how to operate and potentially combine nutrient and carbon markets, Maryland is moving out in front as a national leader,” Gasper says. “Linking multiple markets is appealing because of its potential for preserving and restoring ecosystems – particularly if other Bay states decided to participate or set up their own programs.”

FULL REPORT

A copy of the full report is available online:
http://www.cier.umd.edu/documents/Multiple_Ecosystem_Markets_MD.pdf

FUNDING

The Maryland Department of the Environment funded the study.

The Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) at the University of Maryland has served as the state’s scientific advisor on a series of environmental-economic policy analyses. CIER addresses complex environmental challenges through research that explores the dynamic interactions among environmental, economic and social forces and stimulates active dialogue with stakeholders, researchers and decision makers.

The University of Maryland, the region’s largest public research university, provides Maryland with education and research services statewide, supporting its economic and social well-being.

56 thoughts on “A Fertilizer Trading Market?

  1. Farmers provide food, which is benefit enough to offset the nutrient pollution. Why don’t we start talking about the excess nutrient run-off that does nothing more productive than keep lawns ultra-green. This is a pet-peeve of mine from Fisheries Management days. People want to live by the lakes and have perfect landscaping, then they want to put poison in the water to kill the algae that is feeding off of their lawn fertilizer.

  2. Another self-serving study by a publicly funded organization that is micro-focused on an agenda. I am sure it will shock these folks to learn that such a market already exists. It is called “the farm supplies store”. And the last thing farmers and the world needs is food rationing.

  3. Our yacht club on a fresh water lake was annoyed by the annual algae bloom. We worked with farmers in the watershed and they did a better job of applying Nitrogen. Remember, nitrogen run off is wasted fertilizer that doesn’t help crop yields for them.
    No need for the EPA. They would send out suits and spend millions on studies. Creating paperwork and reports solves no problems. People are open to new ideas that they understand benefit them.
    subsidies are used where new ideas are not beneficial.

  4. Anthony, with permission …

    Isn’it the time of the year to decide who is the best “hurricane forecaster” ?

    I’m wondering what the skill of Dr. James Hansimian turned out to be …

    thanks beforehand … :-)

  5. “In these markets’ paragraph, is duplicated. Please correct it, and then remove this post.

  6. This isn’t about rich folks (as Obummer would say) having nice laws, this is about keeping the Bay fisheries, especially the crabs, clams, and oysters, healthy and thriving. There are an awful lot of farms discharging into the Bay, practically all of eastern Maryland, a fair portion of VA, and eastern Pennsylvania is farmland. All that produces excess algae which starve the water of oxygen. The carbon capture aspect of this is just for show and will probably result in the process being too cumbersome and ultimately failing.

    Another big problem, if my geography severs me, is that the Bay is very shallow and has a low rate of discharge into to ocean since it is an estuary so a lot of these excess nutrients tend to hang around for quite a while.

  7. And how, specifically, do they intend to track these farmers every day of the year to make sure that they are using eco-friendly methods? How many investigators and agents of control have to be around? Do they check the ledgers and fuel consumption and fertilizer purchases? How brainlessly complicated or naive can this proposal be?

  8. Activist groups are monitoring the application timing of ammonia-nitrogen based fertilizer in Illinois with the intent of regulating its use out of existance. Farmers are intensely aware of this. Small wonder then that they reject government proposals to further regulate and monitor their use of fertilizer inputs.

  9. Tamara
    December 2, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Not that I begrudge someone a green lawn, but I feel pretty much the same way. At least in the Southwest, most nutrient loading is from lawn fertilization. Farmers pay a lot of money for the chemicals they use, and tend to apply carefully so that the product is actually used by the plants and not washed away. This makes sense, but one thing that surprised me, was the low levels of nitrate compounds I measured in Golf Course water features relative to urban lakes. Talking to a horticulturalist, I found out that what goes for farmers also goes for golf course managers. They actually monitor their runoff to insure that it is minimised.

    BTW, I really wanted to be an ichthyologist or wildlife biologist, but could not stomach the Marxist indoctrination that seems to accompany the pursuit of any zoologically oriented degree.

  10. This concept of “best management practices” is interesting. Who gets to decide what is best ? Is “best” an absolute never changing concept? Looks to me like more government interference with commerce. The invisible hand is getting a manicure by those that know “best”. I’m not so sure that the farmers of Maryland will like these new esoteric curves thrown at them to help them grow their crops. Do they get a vote?

  11. As usual the Kulaks are to blame, and this isn’t just modern farming methods.
    Lisa “Action” Jackson is going after Mennonite and Amish Farmers for their
    organic ways too. Farmers and Ranchers are always at war with the Eastern alliance…

  12. Hey I have an idea — Wouldn’t nuclear power be a far better solution, than trading fertilizer. If CO2 is your religion, then nuclear power should be your God. Doesn’t everybody know, windmills and solar panels don’t deliver? Cost far more the build and maintain that they deliver in electricity.

    I know you can use BS as fertilizer … Normally you get it from cows, but people produced BS can also be used in a pinch.

    I guess the one is sad that everybody knows the CO2 going to kill the earth scam, so as a knee jerk, we have to ban drilling in the oceans … Of course the rest of the world could care less what the US BS artists have to say, and plan on drilling everywhere oil can be found.

  13. Regarding the comments about run-off. Pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer should not be administered anywhere near a stream, exiting irrigation ditch or water body. And Maryland should simply pass a law to that effect.

  14. Ignorance cubed ! A long time ago I owned a seat, and traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange & managed 25,000 acres of irrigated farm land and several feedlots. The above fails to have a regular adjustment from speculated value to actual, or true, value. On the CME the speculated price of 40 head of fat cattle (if memory serves) for a given month of a given year permitted the seller to actually deliver 40 head of fat cattle to the buyer of the contract in Chicago. The threat of delivery caused the speculated price to move to the actual cost of cattle when the contract expired at the end of the particular month. They have no way of setting a real value on their contract.

    The photo of a stream and field demonstrates ignorance again. Good farm land in the corn belt will produce about 200 bushels of corn an acre – its very valuable – worth thousands of dollars an acre. Planting trees with their expanding water sucking roots robs the corn. A three day period exists during a corn plant’s life when access to the necessary water intake determines to a large extent how much grain it will produce. We have not mentioned taking that tree covered land out of production.

    The CO2 trading market in Chicago is dead in the water. They lacked the necessary function to force speculated contracts to real, measurable deliveries at a specified site.

    Please note I have made no mention of the well documented falsification of the AGW theory, which appears to be the impetus behind such drivel. For 1.6 million years we have had an ice age every 100,000 years, of which 90,000 is ice cold and 10,000 warm. Guess were we are now.

    WilliMc

  15. Ignorance cubed ! A long time ago I owned a seat, and traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange & managed 25,000 acres of irrigated farm land and several feedlots. The above fails to have a regular adjustment from speculated value to actual, or true, value. On the CME the speculated price of 40 head of fat cattle (if memory serves) for a given month of a given year permitted the seller to actually deliver 40 head of fat cattle to the buyer of the contract in Chicago. The threat of delivery caused the speculated price to move to the actual cost of cattle when the contract expired at the end of the particular month. They have no way of setting a real value on their contract.

    The photo of a stream and field demonstrates ignorance again. Good farm land in the corn belt will produce about 200 bushels of corn an acre – its very valuable – worth thousands of dollars an acre. Planting trees with their expanding water sucking roots robs the corn. A three day period exists during a corn plant’s life when access to the necessary water intake determines to a large extent how much grain it will produce. We have not mentioned taking that tree covered land out of production.

    The CO2 trading market in Chicago is dead in the water. They lacked the necessary function to force speculated contracts to real, measurable deliveries at a specified site.

    Please note I have made no mention of the well documented falsification of the AGW theory, which appears to be the impetus behind such drivel. For 1.6 million years we have had an ice age every 100,000 years, of which 90,000 is ice cold and 10,000 warm. Guess were we are now.

  16. Wow another farm subsidy program… and where does the money for these “incentives” come from? Most of the bush that was pulled to begin with was done so to increase the amount of cultivated land per quarter section. Putting it back in means lost $$$. That has to be topped off by someone because the farmers themselves certainly won’t just eat it and accept lower incomes. The only farmers I’ve ever spoken to pushing “uber green” were all for the highest levels of government intrusion (those involved in the organic lotto, both north and south of the border, cry for the absolute NEED of government enforced market share and even go so far as guaranteed income) as exists here in Canada.

    The higher costs of food here in Canada, as much as 40% on daily use items like milk and eggs over the cost of same in America, all stem directly from the costs of government imposition and the subsequent lack of competition within our markets. Our economy is strong and joblessness no worse than it ever was here in Canada. Can America afford the same right now?

  17. Beautiful pic of an irrigation ditch to incorrectly illustrate a point. This is reminiscent of one of my father’s admonishments when I was at the supper table as a young lad. He used to tell me, “Don’t play with your food!” Leave the farming to farmers. They’re pretty good at it here in the states.

    Nearby, Kansas State University has an area in which various crops are farmed by the latest techniques. Ostensibly, it was placed here to show our dumb farmers a better way to farm. Its been here, I believe, since the 70s. It has never failed to be outproduced by neighboring farms.

  18. I am a VA resident, and we are currently wrestling at the state level with new TMDLs under the EPA at the fed, and on the local level with our sustainability groups who also want to pass the decades old Chesapeake Bay Ordinance before the new “pollution diet” is approved, so we can be even better on top of things.

    Our locality’s version suggest 100′ uniform buffers of all waterways including drainage swales, and “any connected wetlands”, which also have a creatively inclusive definition.

    The state does not have the money to match the current BMPs, but the grant-go-round is being heavily flogged as a solution by the sustainables, on the grounds that is is a free (sustainable?–rotfl) revenue stream.

    The locals who actually farm are horrified at what they will be mandated to maintain (native plants in all 100′ buffers, to be maintained against deer-browse too–look up VA’s whitetail population to see what that might cost!), and whether farmers or no, have requested a cost-benefit analysis in vain before the county proceeds.

    The “need” to adopt this was “proved” via a green block grant funded study by county staff that showed insufficient numbers of may-and caddisfly larvae in the small percentage of streams tested…in the months that historically in our section of the Commonwealth shows the lowest populations of these extremely ephemeral creatures.

    Nevermind that the Bay has been declining throughout the lifespan of the ordinance we are being pressured to adopt before there is any resolution on the new top-down TMDLs.

    Nevermind that “nutrient trading” doesn’t actually solve any potential specific pollution problems by those who may buy them, but only creates another false bubble that isn’t a real market.

    Our county is wealthy enough that some think we can make up the difference in the BMPs even if the “free” grant money from the state dries up (and if we adopt a program mandating that, well then we must, mustn’t we?), with a skewed median income provided by some hobby-farming billionaires, one of whom touts their enviro-pristine heirloom meats at $240 for a turkey, and beef at over $20 per lb–this individual pays taxes on one eighth of their assets, because they get a farm deferral on $7M of their land, and has been quoted in the press as saying they lose $1M per year on the “business”, and can do so forever.

    I guess so, if they have more and more programs and deferrals that allow them to sink their losses into the greater good of someone else’s taxes and payments.

    Those are who will benefit from much of this, not people who actually work land for their living.

  19. Sorry to disagree with so many, but nutrient abatement via trading mechanisms is a viable and useful option. Unlike CAGW, there is absolutely rock-solid proof of nutrient-laden runoff from farms, households etc. which impact surface water quality by eutrophication.

    I’m in the same corner as my associate, Ben Grumbles, who was former Assistant EPA Administrator for water. Here’s his testimony:

    http://www.epa.gov/ow/speeches/060713bg.pdf

    This wouldn’t be that hard of a problem to control with modern resources….farmers can apply fertilizers & pesticides with pinpoint accuracy using satellite tools for instance. However, the big Ethanol Rush has resulted in tremendous land pressure with subsequent nutrient runoff. Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” is a prime example (nothing to do with BP).

  20. While I agree with most that this trading scheme is likely to fail, and may be just another eco-fascist ploy, ag run-off into the Bay is a very real problem, both in terms of ecology and economics. Fishing and tourism are big components of MD’s economy and both have taken a hit over the years due to pollution. Fisherman and crabbers are usually the ones complaining about the farmers, not the East Coast Intellecutal Establishement (TM). I know back in the 70s and 80s MD was ticked off at all the PA farmers dumping pesticides into the Susquehanna. The Chesapeake Bay Commission which included, I believe, MD, VA, PA, always stuck me as being more a “conservationist” organization then an “environmentalist” organization (from my rather shallow knowledge of the group).

    Anyway, I have a soft spot for area formerly living in MD and vacationing on the Eastern Shore regularly. Really a beautiful place with a unique culture, even if it is damned nasty and sticky in the summer.

  21. Im from Norway. AND, Im from a farm.

    In Norway we have the exactly same problems with regulators. Lets first lookk at what the government, and researchers, say (and have been saying for decades):
    1. Fertilizer run-off pollutes rivers and lakes
    2. Non biologic ferilizer (non manure), that is: synthetic fertilizers, contribute to N{{sub|2}}O “climate pollution” when used (and a bit in production)
    3. Biologic fertilizer (manure) contribute to “global warming” through CH{{sub|4}} release when used
    4. Manure releases CH{{sub|4}} when stored, leading to runaway global warming

    What have the Norwegian government done in respect to these issues? Lets look at it chronologically:
    1: Very strict planting rules. There has to be established a “zone” between fields and rivers, streams, lakes. What was the situation prior? There WAS a zone between the fields and rivers etc. Why? If not their farmland would erode away. What has the result been? More beaurocrats, to control the enforcing og these rules. More funds on research to prove this has had an effect. The research is far below sub-standard. They do not take into consideration the weather pattern the last year, mining runoff (mining has all but stopped most places) and all other sources that had an impact on the “reference” results. Often the research is based on assumptions, because there were mead no tests of the water prior to the enforcing of these laws!!! They actually say that, “this river would have had so and so much nitrogen 20 years ago, but today we only measure this much. Look at the improvement!”… SHOCKING!!!

    2: High tolls on the use of synthetic fertilizer. Result? Higher cost for the lowest payed workers in Norway. But, from the environmentalists point of view, it is a positive thing. Now its probably more economic to use no fertilizer at all, and get 1/4 – 1/5 of the crop.

    3. There has been talks of banning above-ground spreading of manure. Until this is made a law, large subsidies are given to equipment which deposits the manure under ground. This is subsidies which the other farmers, the farmers as a hole, pays for. Just to give you hint of the price for these wagons: 5o.ooo dollars and up.. AND UP?!?!!.. What will be the result of this law, and the work that has been done until now? I: Beaurocracy II: Equipment makers get a large boost.. But what is the result? Lets get back to “research.” Even the shoddy research that takes place in Norway discovered that, by spraying the manure underground, CH{{sub|4}} release could even get bigger!! (some chemical reactions without oxygen something).

    4. Every cow farts. Now the government is considering fining every milkfarmer with a fine of 1ooo NOK, which is 17o dollars, for every milk cow. I.e. 30 cows -> 5.ooo dollars, every year!!!! How many beaurocrats would handling those funds take???? They also want to distribute these funds to make biogas-plans, based on manure. I dont know about USA, but in Norway this would amount to colossal subsidies. For every MWh{{sub|e}} it would cost around 7oo dollars. Is that expensive in USA? And that is subsidies.

  22. As one or two people have posted, grain farmers don’t like wasting money on nitrate fertilizers and are probably not the culprit in waterway pollution. In very long term experiments conducted in the UK (as in more than 10 years of data) it was identified that nitrate run-off occurred after breakdown of organic nitrogen by bacteria and subsequent leaching during high rainfall (and here’s the kicker) only when the crop plants were not actively growing. On the basis of this research, the EU has instituted a “green fields” policy where ground is not left fallow during winter months as this was the time of greatest leaching.

    Furthermore, those people talking about algal blooms should check which nutrient is actually limiting in freshwater before pointing the finger at nitrates – it is nearly always phosphate which is limiting and the biggest source for phosphate run-off is animal manure. Managing the disposal of manure from large scale animal production lots is much more effective for controlling freshwater algal blooms.

    There is no doubt that modern farming practices have impacts on the environment – agriculture by definition involves specific cultivation of only a certain number of species and the removal of many others. However, farmers are also at the sharp end of every change in the environment and so are already well-aware of their impact and the need to manage the environment they are in for long term productivity.

  23. “THANKS FOR THE INTANGIBLES” AWARD

    This effort to saddle farmers with regulations deserves a very special award for generating the most excercises in futility, non-productive activity, and redundancy you can possibly get from a state effort.

    Here are the top twelve phrases indicating an expensive, wasteful government class dedicated to efforts aimed at productive farmers, causing them to produce less at greater cost, with more effort, for no reason.

    1. reams of researchers reaching conclusions and making recommendations
    2. setting up a “trading market”
    3. farmers earn financial incentives
    4. investing in eco-friendly techniques (products chosen & favored by gov’t, not by genuine value)
    5. “a double environmental benefit”
    6. reducing fertilizer run-off, a redundancy for existing laws and practices
    7. capturing carbon dioxide headed for the atmosphere
    8. CIER and the World Resources Institute developed a dynamic systems model
    9. models projected the likely volumes of carbon dioxide involved
    10. planting trees in agricultural fields
    11. creating wetlands, habitats for vector populations of mosquitos
    12. states meeting carbon requirements for the Federal Government

    You’re welcome for the award. Zeke

  24. I wouldn’t argue that ag-runoff is not a problem, or a contributing factor. But, if you look at land-use changes around the Bay, ag-runoff is not an increasing factor.

    See: http://www.chesapeakebay.net/landuse.aspx?menuitem=14671
    “Farmland/open space decreased by 8,700 acres per year between 1984 and 1992, 2,110 acres per year between 1992 and 2001, and 941 acres per year between 2001 and 2006.
    The total amount of urban area in the Bay watershed increased by 14 percent, or 355,146 acres, between 1984 and 2006. The annual rate of increase between 1984 and 1992 was twice the annual rate of increase between 1992 and 2006.
    Tree canopy decreased from 62.6 percent of the watershed in 1984 to 61.5 percent in 2006, a loss of 439,080 acres. The highest rate of decline took place between 2001 and 2006, when the watershed lost 37,403 acres of tree canopy per year. ”

    I suspect that farmers just represent an easier target.

  25. “Generally, urban/suburban development delivers the greatest amount of
    nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to local waterways and the Bay per acre: 30 lb/acre/year of nitrogen, compared with 17 lb/acre/year for agriculture, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Well-managed agricultural land is still the next best thing to forests in restoring the “Great Green Filter” of old-growth woodland and natural grasslands that covered the Chesapeake watershed for the first
    ten thousand years of the Bay’s existence.”

  26. pat says:
    December 2, 2010 at 8:27 am
    Regarding the comments about run-off. Pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer should not be administered anywhere near a stream, exiting irrigation ditch or water body. And Maryland should simply pass a law to that effect.

    Pat,
    if there is a thousand acres of farm land, usually there is a stream running through it. In New Jersey or Maryland, make that 100 acres. So, that law you are suggesting will make all high yield farming impossible. How does 25$/lb for tomatoes sound to you

  27. NASATV is speaking about the Arsenic/Phosphorus connection in todays presentation on arsenic based life found in Mono lake , and the growing scarcity of phosphorus for fertilizer use. Some discussion of phosphorus as a pollutant in water – the runoff issue.

  28. Market? Or compulsory complex tax arrangement?

    The missing word is “Free” – A Free Market is where there is no compulsion – and everyone can participate or not as they wish – on such was the West built.

    Using “Market” for compulsory, complex taxation systems is a complete misnomer. Of course, some will profit from these “Market” Tax systems – The Romans used a similar “Market” arrangement to manage commerce. They sold “Franchises” to Tax in an “open” market & the Franchisees could then add their own management fees on top.

    We have examples in the Bible, Zaccheus and (later Saint) Matthew were agents in the “market” systems of the day – very profitable for them – though the people despised those collaborators with the totalitarian Romans.

    There was a separate moral category for these lowest of the low -not sinners, but tax gatherers.

  29. Tamara at 9:51, from watching how numbers are calculated in my own county, often interesting means are used, as well as assumptions.

    For instance, we have large-lot zoning to preserve agricultural uses (which are then so strictly regulated that it is too costly for most to participate, except as a hobby of the wealthy). Under this zoning during the time period you reference, one hundred “pristine” acres could have been developed in one tier into two 50 acre lots, or in another to five 20-acre lots.

    Two, or five homes on 100 acres. However, the entire hundred was now counted as fully “developed”.

    In addition, back when actual subsistence farming occurred on the bulk of land in the county, there was LESS tree canopy than exists today, post-development of one third of the county: no one cropping was going to waste productive land, and no one with stock in pasture was going to do the same.

    There is no longer any dairying here, and former pasture is now 20-years overgrown in cedar and minimal hardwood, while cropland has also turned into lowgrade forested land on many estate lots.

    We have planners here who refer to all suburban development as the “urbanizing” of the land, but we have very little developed at the density triggers to be classified as truly urban; we don’t even have the density yet for metro buses, although most in the county work in DC or the close-in suburbs.

    Find out what constitues those figures; Montgomery in MD has some of its own little secrets re conserving. By creating their rural reserve twenty years ago to supposedly maintain agriculture, they have almost no farming left, and their stock auction closed about ten years ago. Land that is counted as agricultural is primarily now recreational equine.

  30. The second image above shows what appears to be an older model Case tractor and the farming being done is by conventional tillage methods (ie turn the soil over and break it up, leaving bare soil). I would guess this is an old pic. Leading farmers are using no tillage farming with controlled traffic via satellite guided precision technology. This cuts down on high input costs (eg fertilisers) with zero overlap, allows for much better moisture retention, and for organic build up, and results in much less runoff – of everything. Most farmers here in Australia are moving in this direction, starting at least with minimising tillage and using satellite guided steering to cut the overlap and resulting over-use of inouts like seed, fertiliser and diesel. This is mostly driven by farmers wanting to be more efficient in turning minimum input into maximum output in a sustainable way – they do not have to be told.

  31. The most pressing problem for the Chesapeake at the present time is the loss of its key- stone specie– the oyster. The oyster decline is the result of harvest methods and more recently disease. Oysters once filtered the entire Chesapeake water body every 3 days. The loss of this filter cannot be offset by simply controlling nutrients. If one wishes to see the power of filtration look at the impact of the invasive zebra mussel on Great lake water quality.

    Initial steps should include removing perverse farm subsidies and the creation of buffer strips. If we were really serious we would require irradiation of the food supply which would protect nearly half of our crop lost in storage and transportation- reducing as a result the amount of land and fertilizer required to feed us. (It would also eliminate the need for the new farm bill S510)

    The above may actually require of us to spend less money not more and as such will never be as politically attractive to bureaucrats and rent seekers. Unfortunately environment initiatives have had nothing to do with actual improvement for quite some time.

  32. my father-in-law breeds mules in SoCal, near Bakersfield. One of his biggest concerns is manure, how to manage it, get rid of it, prevent it from getting into the ground water, prevent flies from eating his animals, etc. He has two employees who do nothing more all day than deal with manure. They compost it in a far corner of his property away from his barns and his neighbors. I don’t know what he does with it after that, but he spends thousands a year on mitigations, like these little nematodes that are supposed to eat the stuff. He gets those from the government I believe.

    Now, my uncle was a worm farmer. He always said, “The miller’s daughter turned straw into gold, my worms turn bull puckey into cash.”

    My son and I have just come from Chico library where we picked up a new science book – “How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint” by Joanna Yarrow. Of course, the first page I opened up to says, “Buy Shade Grown Coffee.” Oh yeah, sustainability for rich people! I’ll try to keep an open mind though, I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Hope all is well with you and yours!

  33. “Everybody can and should win from these markets,” says principal investigator Matthias Ruth, who directs the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Environmental Research.
    ==========
    What if everybody doesn’t win, another taxpayer bailout??
    How can it be called a “market”, if everybody wins.
    Where do all these winnings come from.

  34. There’s a whole lot of Chicken s*** on the DelMarVa Peninsula. Perdue has a huge farm there.
    ———–
    of his biggest concerns is manure

  35. I would like to announce to all to of you WUWT readers that I have now perfected the sphincter-cizer ® !

    It strengthens the muscle that allows you to ‘hold-in’ that human methane emission.
    Builds your body, burns calories, reduces your carbon footprint & assuages guilt simultaneously.

    I am currently awaiting a response from Generation Investment Management LLC to obtain funding for the infomercials. How can they refuse since it is green in color and is sure to save the planet. Should do well on Planet Green & CurrentTV channels! Probably NatGeo too!

    ps. I hope you guys & gals don’t kill that carbon-credit thing. I was planning on including a FREE lifetime supply of carbon-credits (at 5 cents/ton I can afford to do it) if you place your order in the next 30 minutes! If you kill the carbon credits, I’ll probably have to give a second one free (shipping & handling of course) so you can sphincter-cize ® at the same time as your significant other.

  36. When I read the title of the post, I initially thought of natural, organically produced fertilizer.

    After reading this, I still think it’s BS

  37. There should be absolutely no confidence in their ability to accurately assess the water and runoff from farms from which much of the “runoff” is through the groundwater and from the groundwater laterally into the streams and rivers, often very far from the farm. There is also a sizable time lag between the chemicals entering the ground and arriving at the river. This would be as hard or harder than estimating Co2 release and almost as hard as the idiotic idea that we can measure species diversity with at any useful level. Do we need a whole new bureaucracy of minions running around doing millions of water quality and percolation tests? Or are they going to have a fancy meaningless computer model which will tell them who gets the big bucks, er, credits.

  38. They’re worried about runoff into the Chesapeake Bay? I’m in central Pennsylvania, alongside the Susquehanna River, which is a major source of water into the bay.

    We have many farms around here, and I have often seen the distinctive tractor-pulled tankers from which water-mixed manure is sprayed on the fields for fertilizer. The aroma is… interesting, sometimes overpowering if you’re not used to it. But if you’re going to complain about farm smells, don’t live near farms.

    What else are they going to do with the manure? Make fireplace logs? (Well, there is a nice Green market for organic carbon-neutral fuel…)

    I wonder if that new “Food Safety” bill will want to severely penalize the spraying of E. Coli-bearing material onto crops.

    And the solution to “fix” someone else’s problem with agriculture is, once again, more government bureaucracy?

    I would prefer that agricultural policy not be set by by politicians and bureaucrats who consider it a proper government expenditure to take as a fact-finding trip a guided tour of a vineyard.

  39. I’ve had to work on more than a few of those “turd” wagons pictured above, throughout my mechanical career. The decks wear out, and the chains tend to hang up. No fun in turd town for sure! Steam cleaning them is definitely not for the feint of heart. When I first started out working on Ag stuff, I was given a well seasoned pair of those things to repair. For a couple of days my wife forced me to sleep outside thanks to the effects of getting too close to those things. On a side note; I was surprised to find a whole bunch of little tube shaped magnets clinging to the metal work, and when I asked about them was told that they are “cow” magnets. I laughed and made a joke about buddy needing to use a chic magnet instead, but he was dead serious, and insisted that is what they are. It is true. They drop these smooth little magnets into the feed grain to get the bits of wire and other sundry metal the cows inevitably eat to pass through! I have several on the side of my tool boxes. Well polished of course.

    But back to the wagons again. Spring and summer out here in the dairy belt heralds the splendid sight of these wagons -mostly on the smaller farms- going about their “business” spreading joy across the land. The bouquet takes some getting used too, and when one sees the rooster tail of a working manure spreader, one learns pretty quick to roll up the car windows and close the air vents for a few miles! There are some much much larger “spreaders” that I have also had the pleasure of servicing that are simply giant water tanks that have been fitted with a pump that spray the liquefied “honey” in a massive plume when dragged behind a tractor. There are companies that do nothing but “spread the joy” using these machines, but the lowly wagon still manages to find its place in the sun. Some machines just don’t get the same sort of respect that others doo (doo) One of these days I’ll tell you all about a time I had to go in up to my neck in liquid gold to get a tractor running again when it stalled in the “pit” they ferment the stuff in. I still have nightmares from that job…

    So if you ever need an expert at spreading the dung Anthony, I’m your guy!

  40. Charles Higley at 3:21–here we already have legions of volunteers (many drafted from school ecoprograms) trained by nonprofits to gather data, which is then selectively computer analyzed with “free” grant money from the fed.

    And when we pass our new Bay ordinances, it will create dozens of (government) jobs!

    How we’ll pay for them with the loss in the tax base I’m not sure, but maybe we’ll just keep getting “free” government grants to tide us over until the green economy really takes off.

    (heavy bleeding sarcasm alert)

  41. “. . . but could not stomach the Marxist indoctrination that seems to accompany the pursuit of any zoologically oriented degree.”

    Interesting. Macro-biologists are prone to self-righteousness, often arrogantly so (the so-called P’Ehrlich Syndrome; a physicist friend claims that it’s overcompensation for being innumerate quasi-scientists – “stamp collectors,” as Ernest Rutherford put it), but I hadn’t heard this.

    Could you elaborate a little, or give some examples from your Tums zoology attempts?

  42. Besides that example, I have to think this might not fare any better, simply because farmers really don’t want yet another intrusion into their lives by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
    ————–
    Farmers would like to think they are the rugged individualists, but taking into account things like farm subsidies, guvmint funded research, drought relief and so on the ideal falls a little short of the truth.

    Even in the carbon capture area farmers would like to earn money from soil carbon.

    I figure that there might be a few farmers who would be prepared to go the extra mile on fertilizer management since it looks like a double win to me.

  43. Do these people get paid for all this rubbish?
    These people get climate and weather mixed up. Humans can alter local weather, to a small extent, by the crops growing in the fields. The fields need to be big so American farmers probably make a greater difference than those in the UK. But to alter climate you need global influences which humble man does not have.

  44. There is a consistent theme that people should be left to manage their own resources. I have never seen figures on employment in the USA that list the number of people paid to regulate the producers.

    There should be an intensive name and shame campaign to cut off the air supply of these middlemen who are paid to take money from productive people and hand it to the government, additional to regular taxation. They are contributing far less to the economy than producers like farmers. It’s an employment sector that could well be eliminated and the culprits put to work in the production of goods of value.

    If you are one of these pimps priming the non-tax government pump, then feel free to accept the shame.

  45. S510 basically outlaws natural animal manures and mandates chemicals….for safety?
    no till allows more hard soil to run off, whereas tilling allows water and nutrient into the soil. chem fertilisers kill the beneficial soil bacteria as does roundup etc.
    this is another means to kill off small famers.

  46. and not ONE mention of??????
    all the HUMAN SEWAGE that hits the oceans…they want to talk about nutrient loads in oceans…better look at US as a cause.
    we in aus, our farmers are copping the blame for the reef problems, but the ignored ON PURPOSE the effluent outfalls as the govt!! would have to fix that, and blaming farmers is easier and the idiot Green party here hates farmers.
    have a read of a marine specialists work and opinions from aus

    http://agmates.ning.com/forum/topics/why-blame-farmers-and-co2

    Especially, explore the first hyperlink, copied here:

    http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2006/publications/emerging/coasta

    and then this….
    about a mob called Marsden Jacobs…”consultants” with an agenda…
    Marsden Jacob have a considerable body of work as environmental consultants mostly to governments.
    I first came across their work when they did a report on the Great Barrier Reef for the Qld government into the source of pollution from the Burdekin and other catchments.
    Although the report acknowledged that the greatest source of pollution is from the population centres they concluded that it was cheaper to reduce pollution by targeting farmers and graziers.
    With that as their excuse, the Queensland government then aggressively regulated (with huge penalties incorporated) all of the farming and grazing community in the catchment including those who are many hundreds of kilometres from the mouth of the river. They concentrated on those elements that farmers and livestock producers may be responsible for and ignored town pollutants.
    In the process the public perception via news reporting, is that the farmers are causing aany problems (the GBR Marine Park Authority says the reef is in great shape) which is clearly (but only if you read the considerable100+ page document) not the case.

  47. I live and work on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and have been to meetings about the TMDL process where this topic has been raised. Maryland, being a notoriously green state, prides itself in these kind of requirements, even if they were mandated by EPA (which was forced to act, in turn, by legal action from environmental groups). The Critical Area Law, for example, is exceeding Virginia’s 100′ buffer requirement to essentially require a minimum 100′ forested buffer along all streams and tidal shorelines.

    As for the nutrient and carbon trading, the Chesapeake Bay TMDL models are used to determine how much reduction is required from each watershed and subwatershed in order to “save the Bay”. Of course, these are models and are only loosely correlated to real-world data, a fact which immediately raises red flags in my mind (what? models not based on actual data that demand costly and immediate action? where have I seen that before?). The trading mechanism may be doomed to fail from the start as, from what I have heard from MDE and EPA officials, it will have only cursory oversight by governments (though they might broker the exchanges) and, at this point, is an endeavor filled with unknowns (who will monitor actions? are there penalties for violations of agreements? is this a viable strategy in this economic situation?). In general, the TMDL scheme and its related boondoggles are a nightmare for local governments and citizens as far as implementation, enforcement, and cost.

    If the Chesapeake Bay Commission, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (thanks for forcing EPA’s hand, by the way), MDE, and EPA want to fix the Bay, start with something that will give you concrete, measurable results. There are too many natural and anthropogenic sources of nutrients and sediment to quantify correctly for the purposes of the TMDL program. Why not lift some of the unnecessarily restrictive policies and requirements associated with shoreline protection to allow property owners to save their land (some of it agricultural) and prevent sedimentation of the Bay, arguably the root cause of its degradation (i.e., more sediment, much of it nutrient-laden, leads to buried oysters, leading to less natural filtration, leading to eutrophication, leading to low oxygen, and resulting in so called “dead zones” of the Bay).

    While I have little hope for states meeting the scientifically-unfounded, mandated-but-unfunded, and unenforceable TMDL goals, I have even less that the agencies (and special interest groups) responsible will acknowledge the flaws in their program before causing irreparable economic and cultural turmoil.

  48. Let me be clear now. I work for the government. I hold degrees and work in agricultural. I own farmland. I work in design and construction of erosion control structures. I have not read any previous comments.

    I know what would be involved in this proposal. I’m familiar with previous TMDL’s, EPA, FSA, NRCS, USDA. and so on. This proposal would be e……..
    I’m just going to stop at that. I can’t stand it anymore.

    These idiots give me a bad name.

  49. “Geoff Sherrington says:
    December 3, 2010 at 3:15 am

    If you are one of these pimps priming the non-tax government pump, then feel free to accept the shame.”

    Strictly and narrowly speaking, you are right of course; but that fact is that as society becomes ever more mechanized and energy intensive, fewer and fewer people are needed to provide basic requirements: Food, water & shelter (with transportation being a closely overlapping 2nd tier requirement). Could it be that government is Culture’s way of employing the otherwise unemployable?

    Just thinkin’

    BTW, I worked for the Fed for a month (for the very first time) this summer, and my jaw still goes slack every time I think about that gong show.

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