Monday, November 19, 2007

Another reason to learn where Bulgaria is...

A map of where the richest farmland in Europe is. [Click on map for details][May load slow, BTW]
Leipzig. A new map showing the distribution of loess sediments in Europe has been published for the first time in 75 years, in digital format. With this map, Dagmar Haase, a geographer at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), has completed the work of various researchers who had begun as far back as the 1970s and 80s to revise the last comprehensive inventory produced by Rudolf Grahmann, which appeared in Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde in Leipzig in 1932. Haase and her colleagues have produced the new map with a scale of 1:2,500,000 with the help of modern digital information systems. [More]

A little help with the above map, in case your Eastern Europe memory is a little hazy. Where countries are:

Hmm - I'm looking for big production numbers to start coming out of Ukraine.

And in case you have forgotten about loess -

Whether they are lime-grey or dark black, loess sediments and the soils derived from them are of special importance for agriculture worldwide because they are some of the most fertile soils there are. In Germany, soil quality is given a rating using an index. The maximum value of 100 was attributed to the loess soil at Eickendorf in the Magdeburger Börde plains.

Loess sediments and their soils cover around one-tenth of the earth. In Europe, loess is a powdery product of glaciations during the Ice Age. During those cold periods, this very fine, light material was swept from bare regions on the edges of the glaciers and deposited in regions with denser vegetation. Loess consists largely of quartz grains and lime. The very fine grains ensure good aeration, water storage and mineral levels. This means that soils derived from loess are very fertile, like the black earth of the Börde plains, but are also particularly susceptible to erosion. It is therefore important to know where exactly these fertile soils so worthy of protection are to be found.
When people say they aren't making any more farmland, they are right. But what happens when really good land that has been abused or underutilized finally gets farmed well?

Meanwhile, to refresh your knowledge about how money gets distributed under the EU Common Agricultural Policy and more detail about the individual countries, try this helpful site.

I think the EU may point the way on farm program reform. What if they "unilaterally disarm" first?
Additionally, the European Union uses 87 percent of the world's export subsidies, which severely disadvantages U.S. exports. The U.S. utilizes only 3 percent and the rest of the world uses the remaining 10 percent.

“Farmers and ranchers are willing to lower farm program payments via WTO negotiations if — and only if — they can secure increased opportunities to sell their products overseas,” said Stallman. “However, we are not willing to unilaterally disarm.” [More]
People who routinely use the language of war to describe entitlement payments to a handful of farmers likely have never served in the military with real armaments or have children who now face them. The 2007 Farm Bill is not a war - Iraq is - and evoking the language of death and conflict for political advantage is contemptible and dismissive of the very real threat of very real armaments, IMHO.

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