WILTZ: With a world to feed, what will become of our hunting?Walt Bones, the South Dakota decretary of agriculture, was the keynote speaker at the recent Wagner Rotary Club “Farmers Night.”
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
Walt Bones, the South Dakota decretary of agriculture, was the keynote speaker at the recent Wagner Rotary Club “Farmers Night.”
His interesting program featured some great visual displays.
What stands out in my mind was a map of the United States that illustrated where unemployment is most rampant. The map depicted the last several years, and areas changed from a light color to a dark color when an area reached 10 percent unemployment or greater.
At the current time, the only area on his map that was light in color was a strip as wide as South Dakota that ran north to south from the Canadian border to the Texas border. Included were North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. It certainly spoke well for our part of the nation.
Another world map showed the size of countries and continents in terms of agricultural production. The “ballooned” United States was huge and by far the largest. We were followed by China. It appeared to me that our USA will be responsible for feeding much of the world in the future.
A time for questions and answers followed his presentation. I had read not too long ago that by 2045, the world will not be able to feed its projected population. Knowing that some of our South Dakota farm land is tied up in the federal government’s CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) program, I asked Sec. Bones to comment on the future of CRP land.
I asked this question because editorials in hunting magazines are asking us as hunters to encourage law makers to maintain the status quo of the CRP program. While CRP is a huge factor in our pheasant numbers, I have to ask myself this question. “How will I support the CRP program and its idle acres when people are starving?” Will our pheasant hunting be more important than hungry people? I think not.
After commenting briefly on CRP, Sec. Bones shifted to a problem that has no easy answers. He talked about the vast amounts of agriculture land that is being taken out of production every day by human expansion. This is obviously a major problem. Remember a Sioux Falls where corn once grew on the south side of I-229?
Realizing the gravity of this situation calls for some maturity. When we moved to Wagner in 1976, I advertised that I wanted to buy an acreage near town. A year later we built a new home and pole shed two miles north of town. A short time later, the late Ed Cuka, a retired farmer and husband of one of our finest teachers, criticized me rather sternly for taking some good pasture land out of production. At the time I took offense to his thinking. Today, I know that Ed was right on. Perhaps today, we need some legislation that addresses how much land, and where it is, can be set aside for a private home. This is certainly a sensitive issue.
What do I think we will be seeing in the not too distant future? I don’t believe that it is too difficult to predict. Like our Iowa and Minnesota neighbors, farming, at least in the East River sector, will become more intense. West River will continue to put more land under cultivation. Money will talk, and the best CRP acres will become row crop. CRP will continue only on the most marginal of land. Pheasant hunting will become more dependent on released birds and “pay” hunting. Most of our best wild bird hunting will be west of the river.
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Two weeks ago, I talked about Canadian fishing lodge policies with regard to keeping some fish rather than 100 percent catch and release. In last week’s mail, I received a 2012 brochure from Reindeer Lake’s Lawrence Bay Lodge. They continue to send customers home with fish if they so desire. I learned from my fishing partner that Reindeer Lake’s Tate Island Lodge, the place where we will fish in June, will also send customers home with fish if they so desire. Personally, I believe these lodges are shooting themselves in the foot!
Before booking our trip, I spent time talking with the folks at Wollaston Lake Lodge. They would not allow the killing of any fish, and they were willing to lose customers over it. Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t, but I think that these people are right on.
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As a result of encouragement from so many people, I’m working on a book. I’ve been writing this column for over 40 years, and I’m trying to select the best of that material. If any favorites come to mind, please let me know.
I was in the Sioux Falls Barnes & Noble bookstore the other day looking over the books in the South Dakota section. I wanted to see where SD writers were going to get their works published. Almost immediately I stumbled on some of my work with someone else’s name on it. Plagiarism is the word for this act of literary stealing. Perhaps I should be flattered, but a bit angry would be a better description.
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According to the news media, five dollars a gallon gasoline is matter of “when,” not “if.” The thought is already modifying my summer plans, and it will cripple our already suffering economy. It’s time for the federal government to in act something similar to antitrust legislation and put a cap on the gluttonous profiteering.
*See you next week.