This Earth Day, I want everyone to stop and realize that every day should be Earth Day.
Under the basic principles of liberty, every day truly is! Competition is simply the absence of oppression. When I hear one side say that they want to “drain the swamp” and I hear the other side say that they are “anti-fascist”, I just shake my head and hope that one day we all will realize that we have the same enemy. The powerful and oversized state. Mussolini defined fascism as a “merger of corporate and state power”, this defines both the swamp monsters and the fascists. They are the very same people!
Prairie once covered more than 80% of Iowa. This prairie environment consisted of a rich diverse mix of plants that developed alongside animals, primarily large herbivores, and built the famous Iowa topsoil that is used to feed the world. Now, less than 0.1% of the original prairie is still in its historical condition. Throughout Iowa, you can now see attempts at prairie restoration where land management is being used to restore pre-settlement vegetation. This work gives us important insight into our soil and water and into all things that coexist among them.
It seems easy to dismiss the relationships and their impact on our state, our economy, and our lives. Bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, and bats each can play different and unique role. For example, in other parts of the world bats play a role in pollination, here they keep our insect pest populations in check – conservative estimate is around $3.7 billion a year across these United States. Wasps play a dual role of important Iowa pollinator, and pest control. In Iowa alone, there have been 2,000 species of moths and several species of wasps.
There are likely over 400 native species of bees in Iowa, which support local honey businesses – from small individuals to large multinational co-ops throughout the state. Hives that have access to prairie strips with a diverse mix of flowers and grasses, including late-flowering prairie plants, are healthier and better prepared for winter. In addition to feeding the bees at crucial times in their life cycle, prairie strips also reduce erosion and prevent the flow of nutrients from farm fields into waterways.
We all have heard the increasing alarms raised about the health of the population and migration of Monarch Butterflies. Iowa is an especially important state for this species and many citizens have been working hard to make sure that they can thrive here in Iowa. We can all help by planting native pollinator-friendly plants. Even growing a few such plants in containers can be beneficial! There are lots of helpful resources for like-minded people that wish to be helpful.
Many of our politicians want to appeal to the farming history of Iowa, but most of them do so only as far back as the few people that currently make the profits want you to go. Until the early 19th century Iowa was occupied exclusively by Native Americans and a few European traders. More than 3,000 years ago, during the Late Archaic period, American Indians in Iowa began utilizing domesticated plants. By 1804, there were several Native American groups in Iowa: the Sauk (Sac) and Meskwaki (Fox) on the eastern edge of Iowa along the Mississippi; the Ioway, whom we get our state name from, along the bank of the Des Moines River; the Oto, Missouri, and Omaha along the Missouri River, and the Sioux in the Northern and Western parts of the State. Additionally, earlier records show the presence of the Illinois in Iowa.
Among the plants were squash and goosefoot, probably already domesticated, and the first evidence in the Midwest for cultivated little barley. Iowa farming had begun. Native American societies first domesticated varieties of plants that continue to impact the modern world economy. Some of the earliest plant species brought under cultivation were local weedy and oily seeded varieties, such as marsh elder, and sunflower then —corn, beans, and squashes.
Subsistence frontier farming was replaced by commodity farming after the construction of railroad networks in the 1850s and 1860s. Iowa contributed a disproportionate number of people to fight in the American Civil War. Afterward, those that remained or returned helped transform Iowa into the agricultural powerhouse it continues to be today.
Industrial hemp was produced in Iowa but was outlawed by the federal government in 1937 with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act. The federal government made an exception to the ban on industrial hemp production during World War II when President Franklin Roosevelt asked farmers to produce hemp for the war effort. This program was known as “Hemp For Victory.” Hemp was used in producing many products including parachute webbing, rope, twine, and boot laces. According to Iowa Hemp Association President Dr. Christopher Disbro, Iowa grew upwards of 40,000 acres of the plant decades ago. “The reality is that that’s government genetics that have basically been left on their own to develop climate tolerances. And it’s had 80 years to grow by itself pretty much in our ditches.”
Iowa should lead the way in re-diversifying our agriculture, rebuilding rural communities, and strengthening the environment around us to be more resilient. Iowa should be growing hemp, entheogenic plants, and fungi, as well as nutritious foods, but to be able to do so the government will have to stop interfering in the markets so much and allow “new” types of farming to compete.
Doing so will be amazing for people and for the environment. Instead of subsidizing monoculture, the state could and should allow for regenerative farming and prairie restoration practices to compete on a larger scale, and will in turn build a stronger Iowa, and position the great people of this state for generations to come.
-Marco Battaglia, LPIA Lt. Governor candidate
To learn more about Rick Stewart and Marco’s platform on reducing government interference, and protecting private property visit them at: https://www.rickstewart.com/issues/