Trump Budget Threatens American Food Security

As if denying us water isn’t enough, the Trump budget also puts our food supply in peril.

So says Elizabeth Grossman in Civil Eats:

“Regardless of who you voted for, no one voted for dirtier water, dirtier air, or less-safe food, and that’s exactly what we’ll be getting with the president’s budget,” said Colin O’Neil, Environmental Working Group’s director of agriculture policy.

…The proposed budget reduces research grants and entirely eliminates the EPA’s endocrine disruptor screening program, which began its actual testing work in 2009 by investigating the hormonal effects of 67 active pesticide ingredients, including those in the widely used pesticides atrazine, chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D, and glyphosate.

“To shift resources away from the science that provides evidence-based policy making is really frightening at this time when there’s increasing evidence that pesticides are harming children’s neurodevelopment,” said Schafer. “It’s irresponsible.”

…These cuts would also make it harder for farmers working to make the transition to organic agriculture, said Lovera—at a time of growing demand for organic food along with increasing evidence that heavy pesticide use may actually be undermining food security [Elizabeth Grossman, “Trump’s Budget Would Set Food System Progress Back Generations,” Civil Eats, 2017.03.23].

Less healthy food, less water… but hey! At least we’ll have a big, beautiful wall to keep those darned Mexicans from coming and harvesting our crops and milking our cows… a wall paid for not by those Mexicans but by $18 billion in cuts to our own domestic programs.


35 Responses to Trump Budget Threatens American Food Security

  1. mike from iowa

    Don’t count on a wall just yet, Wingnuts are loathe to put wall funding in budget request and Dems have threatened to block all wall funding.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-wall-idUSKBN16Z31R

  2. Robert McTaggart

    Particularly when Mexico is supposed to pay for it.

  3. mike from iowa

    Interior Secretary upped the ante today saying the US (that’s us) will not cede the whole of the Rio Grande to Mexico (part of the border), we will not build the wall in the middle of the river. So that leaves annexing Mexican territory and building the wall there.

    That should fly, you think?

  4. Roger Cornelius

    Our cowardly congressional delegation has refused to comment on the Trump budget that will cut at the heart of South Dakota life.
    Even the conservative Rapid City Journal has called them out twice in the past week for their cowardice.
    Trump and his minions do not have the ability to anticipate the consequences of their budget cutting and how it affects the economy of rural South Dakota.

  5. Westinghouse has gone belly up, so nuke power is in bad shape. Grow locally and re-wild the west. You can grow enough vegetables in a controlled environment to feed most of western South Dakota on no more than a few dozen small operations. You could purify the water and grow certified organic foods including beef and poultry. Time for consumers to sue trump for endangering they and their children’s health and well being.

  6. so…. cuts to water systems, cuts to food production, cuts to environment…. addition to military budget…. what is the wall for? keeping people out or keeping people in?

  7. mike from iowa

    I thought I sent this to you a short while back.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/14/business/monsanto-roundup-safety-lawsuit.html?_r=0

    Apparently some of the research paper was ghostwritten by Monsanto and gave glyphosphate a clean bill of health-or something like that.

  8. Robert McTaggart

    Jerry,

    Westinghouse may be bought by someone else given bankruptcy proceedings, but I agree that it certainly is a blow to domestic nuclear development at the large scale (1000 MW and up). They sort of needed to finalize a design and stick to it, plus optimize how the regulatory structure works to reduce construction times. Typically you would only have these near larger population centers.

    The good news domestically is that NuScale https://www.uschamber.com/above-the-fold/advanced-nuclear-hits-crucial-first-milestone-the-united-states is making progress on their light water small reactor, and Southern Nuclear is supporting the Xe-100 http://www.x-energy.com/, which is a pebble-bed reactor design. Both of them are better suited to compete with natural gas, load follow in a distributed grid, and not meltdown. Both will serve the markets for 300 MW and smaller.

  9. Robert McTaggart

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/business/westinghouse-toshiba-nuclear-bankruptcy.html?_r=0

    “Nonetheless, it was inevitable that expansions at the Vogtle generating station in Georgia and the Virgil C. Summer plant in South Carolina would hit some bumps along the road to fruition, nuclear executives say. Not only was the design new, but, because nuclear construction had been dormant for so long, American companies also lacked the equipment and expertise needed to make some of the biggest components and construct the projects.”

  10. Westinghouse is toast and we ain’t talking toaster either. Along with the loss of them going down the drain, they will be giving the American taxpayer the best possible news they have heard for sometime. Time to put a tent over the circus called nuke energy and put the money towards renewable energy that will employ more people with less liability.

    Now to go to work on building a substantive food source that is closer to home rather than depending on Mexico to feed us.

  11. Robert McTaggart

    Get ready for some of that clean coal then. People want the lights, TV, and computer on whenever they want. I wonder how that will impact sustainable food production with more acid rain if you avoid nuclear.

    Good news for jerry…they will need a lot more trains now to deliver all of that coal. Bad news for jerry…a lot more radioactivity in the total coal waste than in the equivalent nuclear spent fuel due to that higher volume.

    At the end of the day I don’t think the demise of Westinghouse is terrible….nuclear will just have to adapt. Just look at how many solar companies have gone under, and solar is still OK.

  12. Now to get down to the business of making business with locally grown foods that are certified by an independent board. The food must be pesticide free and grown either hydroponically or with certified chemical free soil. This could be a huge break for small operations that can provide sustainable crops to feed a hungry part of our world. Trump, in his haste to lay waste to all, may finally wake us up to the dangers of corporate farm run off and CAFO’s that continue to pollute waterways along with air quality.

  13. Daniel Buresh

    “Time to put a tent over the circus called nuke energy and put the money towards renewable energy that will employ more people with less liability.”

    Jerry, if you continue to not acknowledge the science community, I am lumping you in with the anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers. You are promoting an anti-science agenda when you make statements like that.

  14. I am a strong believer in vaccine, use it myself each year. Get my flu shot and have actually left the state of South Dakota on one of those airplanes that cross the ocean and stuff, so I know that the earth is not flat or even close to it. If you, Daniel Buresh would bother to take a look at what taxpayers have put into nuke energy, you would get the drift. It is not anti-science, it is anti grift. Why should the taxpayers of this country continue to bankroll the building of these reactors that just keep sucking money from us are outdated and never come on line. No private company in the world wants anything to do with them unless they are on the teat. You claim to be a conservative, explain please, how a boondoggle like a nuke power plant is not just one big vacuum of state and federal tax dollars. Show me a private company that will take on building one of these leeches. Each undertaking (pun intended) for the building of these is underwritten by the US Government, that would be you and me with tax payer money. In South Carolina, as an example, they get hit twice for this theft. Naw, the game is rigged and we ain’t winning. Westinghouse could not even keep up the charade with the money being shoveled to them. The dinosaur is dead and gone man, put the tent over it and clean the bones.

    Renewable energy hires more people. You can even find that information on your own. Renewable energy has much less risk and liability and is good for ya and for your little ones. Anti- Science, no way dude, if I were any more into science, I would hang around Tom Cruise.

    Now, what is really cool is to start to think of ways in which to grow food in controlled environments that will take matters into your own hand regarding what is grown and how it is grown to supply the demand of folks who need safe food. We have the space here to do just that. We can purify our water and label it as such, we can certify our soils and we can do a serious job of taking seriously the job ahead of us. We can no longer count on the federal government to keep the water and air quality safe, so we must do that to feed our people.

  15. At peril of letting myself be drawn into the ever-attractive nuclear debate, if we can’t trust the Trump Administration to maintain reasonable protections for our food system, how can we expect the Trump Administration to properly monitor nuclear facilities?

  16. Robert McTaggart

    Sorry jerry. Nuclear supports more jobs per kilowatt-hour.

    You are also forgetting unfunded liabilities for renewable wastes, indirect emission of carbon via natural gas or coal due to intermittency, and the multiple replacements for each solar or wind farm while the same nuclear plant operates over 40, 60, or 80 years. Let solar and wind face the same safety, regulatory, and licensing structure that nuclear has imposed on them. Then talk to me about subsidies.

    Smaller nuclear reactors will help wind and solar avoid carbon from natural gas or coal. Or you can live the lie and pretend that intermittent power is 100% compatible with our gotta-have-power-now culture.

  17. Robert McTaggart

    Good question Cory,

    We have always measured food toxins differently than we do radioactivity. Recall that most of the toxins that can get into food follow a threshold model of biological response. Reduce the amounts below a certain level, and you should be OK.

    We impose a linear model of risk for radiation. This is accurate at very high doses, but radiation may have a threshold response like other toxins at the lower levels. Nevertheless, any radioactivity in a linear model will add to the risk. And boy can we detect low levels of radioactivity! The science is that good.

    But it sounds like the issue you point to is the theory of reducing regulations in the name of reducing regulations, instead of putting in the work to have the right regulations in place.

  18. mike from iowa

    You can trust “Good Hair” Perry to try to run the Gays out of Texas A & M why couldn’t he keep an eye on nukes? Afterall, HRC sold em all to Russia with all of our uranium.

  19. Mr. H, are you for nuclear or are you for coal?
    Which one helps food better?

  20. Why don’t private investors do nuke power? Because taxpayers foot the bill while underwriting it completely. Kind of like sports stadiums. Nuke power is the biggest grift ever. http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-industry-crisis-29735/ If we spent the wasted money on nukes, we could fully fund and deliver a renewable power system that would handle all of our needs for now and into the future. We could then concentrate remaining resources on what we can do as citizens to help clean our waterways and our air on our own. South Dakota government can not and will not put an end to the CAFO’s nor will they find ways of stopping the farming operations that pollute the waterways and air quality as well. Food security means just that, safe food for humanity without doubt.

  21. barry freed

    Trump’s MO is to hire Mexico to build the wall, then call INS when it’s payday.

  22. barry freed

    When young, foolish, and still believing the American Dream, I wanted to buy a little land in Rapid Valley to grow food for people. I envisioned an organic farm in the Valley that paid indigent workers with part cash and part vouchers. The vouchers would be redeemable at my restaurant in town. Good, fresh food helps the soul.

    I sold Kenechkee’s Corn at one time. They grew it north of the Windmill in Rapid. They had a little pocket of land with good soil and a good spring. My best day, I sold 150 Gross. That’s a lot of corn, their delivery truck had to make three trips.

  23. Robert McTaggart

    Yeah, there’s an idea….if we could just stop all these subsidies for nuclear, then we could give all of those subsidies to renewables. So much for the free market! We’re going to have a lot of solar and wind….the question is how much carbon do you want to come with them?

    Why don’t you build your own interstate? Because the big projects can only get done with long-term financing, and private partners usually cannot do it all. Some things do not get done without government partnership.

    I will agree with you that the way things are set up today, near-term cost prevents most utilities from choosing more nuclear. But even the present plants win out on total cost, carbon and reliability against wind, solar, and natural gas in the long term because nuclear’s operational costs are lower. So we are being a bit penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    If you do not like the subsidies that are required to deliver the power we actually use, then work to reduce the cost drivers: A lot of the regulatory and licensing requirements for nuclear could be updated, and we could build the smaller reactors that are less costly to build upfront and are walk-away safe.

  24. barry freed

    I don’t see the sky falling with these changes as the Department of AG, EPA, et al, don’t seem to be doing anything of note.
    We heard how the EPA was seizing property for draining mud puddles in driveways, calling them waterways, yet a Hotel in Keystone was feeding poopy water to many tens of thousands of tourists, year after year, while EPA did nothing but bluster.

    Mark Hollenbeck in Edgemont, who is pushing for uranium mining calls his beef: “organic”. How does the Dept. of AG certify Organic, cows that eat radioactive grass and drink 10 gallons of radioactive water every day? Don’t need lighting to see to eat these burgers.

  25. Robert McTaggart

    Uranium can be found in every soil sample you take, wherever you take it. Uranium can be found in every single water sample in every pond, stream, lake, or ocean. But because those levels are tiny, we are not affected.

    So good luck trying to equate organic with uranium-free, particularly when life has developed over the last 4-5 billion years with even greater levels than today (i.e. uranium is slowly decaying away, so there was more in the past), and it is naturally-occurring.

    On average, one radioactive decay per second occurs in the human body from uranium. Which is not a lot considering the numbers of particles are measured in many moles, and one mole is 6.022E+23. As long as levels are below the EPA limits, human biology is not threatened by the radioactivity or the chemistry of uranium.

  26. Robert McTaggart

    By the way, they used to use uranium in types of fiestaware for the vibrant colors that it produces.

    You can detect the radioactivity with a geiger counter on the older plates, but sorry, you cannot see them glow (Modern fiestaware does not use uranium).

  27. mike from iowa

    Let’s build nukular plants in the middle of mike’s cornfields and see how long it takes to contaminate the most productive farmland ever.

    First strike in a nuke war would target our nuke capabilities and destroy our food chain pretty pronto.

    Makes sense to me. I would prefer, however they were built on Drumpf’s golf courses after the gubmint seized the properties in eminent domain. Love to hear Drumpf squeal about being cheated out of money.

  28. Robert McTaggart

    Mike,

    The use of phosphate-based fertilizer is redistributing naturally-occurring uranium and its progeny (at low levels) from wherever it was originally mined to the soils you speak of today. And according to you, that soil is the most productive soil today!

    A nuclear power plant has to keep track of all its uranium and other fission by-products.

  29. I like the point Robert makes about the deregulatory impulse. Trump has no idea what the regulations dealing with pesticides, inspections, organic agriculture, or food research do. He simply preaches this absurd, abstract, “cut two regs for every one new reg!” line. There’s no accounting there for what proportion of regulations are actually bad, no criteria for establishing what constitutes a bad regulation. It’s just government by slogan instead of government by science.

  30. Robert McTaggart

    The prospect of attack is one reason to move our spent fuel resources to a centralized location.

    And what about food irradiation? Wouldn’t eliminating pathogens by irradiation enhance food safety and extend shelf lives? Wouldn’t that benefit farmers and consumers?

    You can fine tune the irradiation so you are only treating the surfaces of your agricultural products, or you can irradiate the full volume (which you may want to do for ground beef, for instance).

  31. I said I was done with debating nuclear energy versus renewable’s and I am. Anyone that thinks Bob McT’s nuclear is done is completely wrong. Just take a look at Trumpy’s budget. He cuts the be-jesus out of everything but the military and nuclear and they both get a raise. The future is obvious. We will get Bob’s small reactors because that is the only way the power monopolies can keep their stranglehold on us. As long as we put no cost on the storing of nuclear waste into perpetuity or no cost on the immediate dangers of it it is the cheapest source of power. Pretty sad when country’s around the world are moving towards completely renewable power. Talk about subsidies!! What do you call not placing the true cost’s where they should be. On nuclear and carbon based fuel.

  32. Robert McTaggart

    Build the small reactors, solve climate change, help the intermittency of renewables….and Bob’s your uncle :^).

    Utilities will build more solar, wind, and natural gas in the near term. But that only works as long as the price of natural gas is low, and only as long as you are replacing coal plants instead of nuclear plants with regard to carbon.

    So I agree with you Clyde that we will have a lot more solar and wind in the future…the only question will be how much carbon would you like to come with them.

  33. Robert McTaggart

    And by the way, the storage of nuclear waste has not been free. Ratepayers used to have a fee assessed. Although that stopped, those monies have not been spent on anything so far. Utilities still have to purchase the concrete casks and pay for general waste oversight.

    You are right, I don’t see a whole lot of momentum for building nuclear plants the same way they were a long time ago. Those large upfront costs need to be reduced (which is why SMRs are being considered). Plus we have to build fewer, uniform designs that are simpler and easier to regulate. The current fleet has variations imposed by economics and the tastes of the utilities or regulators or politicians.

    What is unclear is whether we can reprocess the current nuclear waste (so there is less to bury and less isolation time required and less mining required), or whether we will punt, bury the current waste, and just consider recycling for the new reactors.

  34. Robert, there is no incentive to do anything with nuclear byproducts as long as the taxpayer foots the bill. Recycle??? Not likely. All that matters is that the power monopolies stay in charge.

    Renewable energy will continue as it has….a token move to make the uneducated masses get that warm fussy feeling in their chest from thinking we are actually doing something good for the future. Of course that will only occur as long as guvment keep’s up the subsidy!

    I’m sure that any monies payed by rate payers for long term storage of the waste was a pittance compared to what the actual costs will be. But, hey, Robert, you can forget about convincing folks because, as I said, we are going to get nuclear power shoved down our throats whether we want it or not. No need to try to convince us its a ‘good thing!’

  35. Robert McTaggart

    Hopefully renewables are being offered to deliver the power we actually use while displacing carbon from our economy.

    I just don’t think that burning a whole lot more natural gas to boost renewables after coal has been displaced makes a lot of sense if climate change is all that important.

    Those climate costs will likely go uncaptured…sort of a negative subsidy.