Will water quality politics turn the tide towards more ag regulation?

By on December 17, 2019

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Earlier this week a University of Michigan Water Center study focused on the Maumee River Watershed was released and has caused more than a few ripples in the ongoing agriculture blame game with regard to Lake Erie water quality.The study used computer modeling to look at different management and policy scenarios that could achieve the goals set to reduce phosphorus levels entering Lake Erie by 40%. The policy alternatives described as “most promising” by Jay Martin of Ohio State University (co-author of the study) included increased use of the existing best-management practices and conversion of croplands to switchgrass or other grasses. One possible scenario that the study determined could achieve the 40% reduction goal suggested removing nearly 30,000 acres in the watershed from agricultural crop production.“The study really criticizes Ohio farmers for not implementing best management practices on managing the nutrients and fertilizer they put on the land. We’re really concerned about that. We know that Ohio farmers are doing the best they can to keep the nutrients on the field. We felt that this study was kind of a punch in the gut to Ohio farmers and we really feel like we need to punch back,” said Kirk Merritt, with the Ohio Soybean Council. “We don’t think it is even good research. It is essentially a bunch of computer simulations and from that they are extrapolating new policy and new mandates that we really think would be a detriment to Ohio agriculture and the farmers that we represent.”Listen to the full conversation between Merritt and Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo regarding the research.Kirk Merritt Michigan Study responseThe study quickly generated agricultural blame for Lake Erie’s water woes. The Associated Press had a story on the study that generated headlines such as this: “Report: Farmers doing too little to stop Lake Erie algae.” In the AP story, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Joe Cornely was critical of the limited focus of the study to agriculture in a specific region, but Cornely’s more agriculturally friendly (and reality-based) sentiments near the end of the story were largely swamped in the mire of algae-panic-inducing policy promoters.When talking about the interview and subsequent AP story, Cornely expressed more dissatisfaction with the research.“Our biggest concern with the report is that it proposes some very impractical solutions that could have severe economic and social consequences. Worse, it creates unrealistic expectations among the public. There are no scenarios under which the problem gets fixed immediately,” Cornely said. “Another concern is that it singles out the Maumee watershed, which according to the Army Corp of Engineers, contributes 40 percent of the nutrient load. Why give the impression that the whole problem can be fixed solely by farmers in a single geography?”The Columbus Dispatch version of the story included this first sentence: “Farming practices in western Ohio must undergo major changes if there is any hope of reducing the toxic algae blooms that plague Lake Erie every summer, according to a new study.”Jeff Reutter, the former director of Ohio State University’s Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory, was quoted in Dispatch story saying: “Based on the report, it seems foolish for anyone to say ‘We only want to do this voluntarily.’…I think we’re at the point that we have to recognize that you can’t do it only voluntarily. … So what kind of policies do we need, including regulations, incentives, whatever they might be, to get that amount of participation?”Needless to say, the Ohio agricultural organizations that have collectively contributed millions of dollars in funding to address agriculture’s role in water quality issues were less than pleased with the general tone of the stories that have been widely circulated since the release of the University of Michigan study. Chad Kemp, President of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association and Adam Graham, President of the Ohio Soybean Association worked together on this joint statement on the study.“A recent study released by the University of Michigan has received significant attention. Ohio Corn & Wheat and the Ohio Soybean Association have major concerns about the unrealistic, one-size-fits-all approach of the study and the calls for additional regulations.“The study’s authors also charge that Ohio farmers will not voluntarily adopt practices necessary to protect water quality. We know farmers have already done so.“We are very disappointed that a representative of The Ohio State University (OSU), who co-authored the study, stated that the ‘most promising’ scenario was to reduce food grown in our state by eliminating farmland equal to the size of Dayton, hurting many small family farms. This is unrealistic, disregards the positive economic impact of grain farming in Ohio, and the need to grow food for a growing population.“The study relies on computer simulations that apply blanket practices over the watershed, which is unrealistic and impractical. The study did not take into account current adoption of conservation practices or the fact that some practices work best in certain geographies. In order to achieve real success, farmers need to be able to customize their conservation choices to what fits best for their farm. Farming is not a one-size-fits-all practice.“With support from farmers, Ohio has adopted unprecedented mandatory policies, such as a fertilizer applicators’ licensing program, and is leading the country through cooperation among stakeholders and a proactive approach toward tackling this challenge.“A survey of Ohio grain farmers shows an 88% increase in farmers adopting grid sampling to test their soil and a 184% increase in the awareness and adoption of the 4Rs of nutrient management (right source, right rate, right time, right place) in only the past two years. Farmers currently implement multiple practices on their farms, yet the scenarios in the study only account for a few of the options available.“Through the hands-on work of Dr. Elizabeth Dayton, a researcher with OSU, we are gaining invaluable insights from real farms that take all practices into account. Her research shows that farmers are taking the right first step, and there is tremendous opportunity to make additional voluntary changes that will reduce runoff.“Sustainability is more than just environmental quality. It’s about finding the right balance of environment, economics and a reliable food supply. We need to take a measured approach to solving this challenge and not waste time and resources on studies that do not yield information that is applicable to real farms. It is also foolish to recommend policy changes without on-farm data.We all share the same goal of reducing the impact of runoff on Lake Erie. Farmers have repeatedly shown through their actions and their funding priorities that they are focused on this issue. Research, modeling, and asking the right questions can lead to solutions, but it must be based on the changing conditions that challenge farmers every single day.“Ohio grain farmers will continue to champion reasonable and responsible solutions to preserve and improve water quality.”last_img read more

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Scale and the Dilution of Quality

By on December 9, 2019

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now Craftspeople are about quality. They make their wares by hand. Their own two hands. The attention to detail–the caring–is literally part of their creation. The revisions, the do-overs, the work that is abandoned because it isn’t good enough is what separates a craftsperson from the poseur, the hobbyist, the amateur, and the person who does something simply to scale it up and sell it.When something is created by hand, the deep caring that is poured into the work allows the creator to deliver what is exceptional, what is exquisite, what is excellent. It’s difficult to scale attention to detail, and it’s even more difficult to scale caring (even though it can–and is–being done).Dilution of CareThe act of scaling beyond a certain point is a dilution of quality.Scale is the decision to serve more people. This means swapping “by hand” for more efficient means. Efficiency is the choice of speed over quality. It’s trading exceptional, exquisite, and excellent for “good enough. Scale doesn’t mean that something isn’t good, useful, or even that it isn’t worth buying. But it does mean that trade-offs were made.The Retention of What Is ExceptionalTo retain exceptional, exquisite, and excellence, you have to make greater investments, investments that kill efficiency. You have to hire more people to create high touch, high value, and high caring. You have to keep slack in the system when your competitors are working on becoming leaner. The decisions you make because of your choice of strategy must look like madness to your competitors.Exceptional takes more investments in time, money, and caring. Good enough is about being efficient.Not Everything Need BeNot everything needs to be exceptional. What one person values enough to pay more to obtain, another person perceives as a commodity.If it is your model, your strategy, is to differentiate by creating what is exceptional, then scaling will require greater and greater investments, and those investments will require that you price your offering to deliver that. That means you are going to have to ask your clients to pay for inefficiencies, for slack, for high caring. They are going to have to pay for things to be done by hand.In many markets, the middle is getting pulled apart. Companies–and their leaders–are being forced to choose to compete on price and begin a gradual race to the bottom or serve the higher end of the market instead. Scaling mostly means dilution of quality and moving down from exceptional.last_img read more

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Nagaland begins crackdown on proxy teachers

By on December 1, 2019

first_imgNagaland has undertaken an exercise to cleanse the education system of proxy teachers “appointed” by regular employees in order to avoid working out of their comfort zones.The crackdown began with the State’s Directorate of School Education ordering 16 teachers to join their places of posting in Kiphire district, bordering Myanmar, on Monday.To ensure that these teachers do not go back to their old ways of letting a substitute teach on their behalf, the directorate asked them to email their photographs with the school building in the background as well as photographs while taking classes. The directorate has sought such photos every day from November 11 to the end of the academic session this year.“The reforms in the education sector have begun in earnest with inspection of schools,” said Mmhonlumo Kikon, BJP legislator and the State government’s advisor for IT, Science and Technology. He credited the reforms to school education advisor K. Tokugha Sukhalu and the department’s principal director Shanavas C.The crackdown started from November 4 to 7 with Mr. Shanavas undertaking inspection of schools in Kiphire district. He found 16 teachers absent from their duty, but with proxies teaching on their behalf.“We don’t have data on how many proxy teachers are working but the situation is very grave. We have made a start and hope the step taken against the Kiphire teachers would send a message to other teachers who have been guilty of such unethical practice,” Mr Shanavas told The Hindu.He added that district education officials have been asked to survey the schools in their areas of operation toward purging the system of proxy teachers, many of whom are not qualified to teach.Investigations by NGOs in the past had revealed the regular teachers usually pay their proxies a fraction of their salaries while staying put at home in urban centres or villages in a different district and pursuing business or other vocations. The proxies teach in the name of the regulars.Mr. Sukhalu said the 16 teachers have been told to sign an undertaking they would henceforth be regular and not keep proxy in their place of posting. “The undertaking has to be countersigned by the head of the institute, Village Education Committee, and district education officer or sub-divisional education officer. Failure to comply with the order will invite legal action and termination of service without any further notice,” he added.On November 8, the Directorate of School Education published the names of the 16 teachers in Kiphire district who either kept proxies or were absent from duty for a long period. One of the teachers, a woman posted at Government Middle School at Zhimkiur, had “appointed” two locals as proxy teachers.last_img read more

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All the Stringing sounds of success

By on August 31, 2019

first_imgTO celebrate the 60th anniversary of Lalit Kala Akademi, a musical concert is being organised in the Capital where santoor maestro and composer Abhay Rustum Sopori will inaugurate the function with his performance. The evening will be graced by  Shripad Yesso Naik, Hon’ble Minister for Culture, Govt of India.Sopori’s music will take on a journey of India through the musical notes of Santoor in unison with the classical, Sufi, traditional and ethnic sounds and drums of India presenting a cultural ethos of India enchanting the listeners and taking them into a state of ecstacy – the Irfaan. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The concert will feature around 30 musicians on santoor, tabla, pakhawaj, mridangam, gattam, khol, nakara, nagada, tumbaknari, drums, percussions, sarangi, vocals, cello and double base guitars. Sopori is the youngest santoor maestro and classical musician to compose and conduct orchestras, folk and sufi ensembles. He has been the youngest recipient of all the awards he has received including the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi’s first Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar, J&K State Award (the highest Civilian Award of the State of Jammu & Kashmir), Sangeet Mani Award, Glory of India Award, Best Citizens of India Award, Bharat Shiromani Award, Sangeet Bhushan Award and many more. His name also features in various Biographical-note volumes.When: 5 August Where: Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus MargTiming: 6:00 pmlast_img read more

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Hindu Jagaran Manch to hold rally to demand construction of Ram Mandir

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first_imgKolkata: The Hindu Jagaran Manch, a Hindu right wing group, will organise a rally here on Saturday to press for the demand of construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, a leader of the manch said Friday. Apart from the demand of construction of the Ram Mandir, the ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’ rally at Shahid Minar Grounds here will also demand National Register of Citizens (NRC) in West Bengal to weed out illegal immigrants from the state, he said. “We have four specific demands. One is construction of Ram Temple at Ayodha and all the political parties should come forward to make that happen,” Vivek Singha, assistant media in charge, of Hindu Jagaran Manch told PTI. The second demand is NRC for Bengal in order to identify and send back the illegal immigrants. Third is passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill in order to enable Hindu refugees get citizenship and the fourth is construction of a Gangasagar house, for Gangasagar pilgrims by the state government, on the lines of Haj House, he said.last_img read more

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