Greg Harrison

President & CEO, Harrisons Bird Foods

This conversation is closed.

Missed the boat. Agriculture exemptions, subsidies and tax benefits need to be based on conformity to sustainable standards.

Jonathan has missed the boat.
1. Cows eat grass and if on free range their manure is sequestered with carbon. They also produce a meat with omega 3 fatty acids that are ideal for omnivores and carnivores.
2. Cows in confinement for meat or dairy need antibiotics, parasite controlling chemicals to survive. They produce a fat that is toxic to end consumers.
3. Cows should not be fed soybeans and corn but grass (hay, pasture) such land is not ideal for grains and vegetables for humans.
4. Human food land should not be used for biofuel (corn ethanol).
5. Soil is being used like it was a hydroponic media = seeds, water and nutrients plus chemicals to kill competitors.
6. Soil is a living entity and needs to be cultured not managed just for profit.
7. Buffer zones for filtration should be a minimum requirement if chemical farming is allowed.
8. Crop insurance, subsidies should not be offered to crops growing in flood planes, deserts and bogs. Disaster is emanate. Insure and subsidise crops in ideal environments.

9. Most irrigation is inefficient. Because of point 5. Such soil is almost impervious and has more run off than perculation. If soil is cultured it has humus that retains water. A bio-community that is symbiotic with the crop.

Vegetables, grains, nuts are being grown in situations similar to confinement animals. They are grown in deserts, bogs. old river beds that require irrigation and chemical management.

For example, sunflowers are being grown in old bogs that have been drained. As such they need fungicides to survive. Organic sunflowers will not grow in such soil. Should have been left a bog. These were the reservoirs of old.

Biomass makes best soil for crops and water retention and percolation. The later recharges aquifers not drains them. Support it. Not farming in deserts.
Agriculture exemptions need to be based on conformity to the above practices and put into standards. Not rewarded just because it is "farming".

Revise USDA to be proactive to these ideas.

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    Apr 14 2012: If anyone is interested.

    I came across this years ago on engineered soil by the ancient Amazonians.

    It's not scientific but it has references to universities and biologists.
  • Apr 14 2012: MAAN!! THANK YOU!!!


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    Apr 14 2012: I can understand the everglades or is this even worse?

    When you talk of cultured land i take it you are referring to natural fertilizers,good old worms which are a natural deterrent to pest predation instead of pesticides.I was told once that fertilizers though increase the yield also make the plants more inviting to insects,to coin a phrase "The cream on the top"My uncle told me this too when it came to spreading maize mulch over pastures for his cows,I'm wondering if this is just local myths.

    I agree with you as my country is mostly Dairy farmers and are facing a crisis where spray fertilizing the pastures is polluting the waterways and promoting algae blockage on top of methane release.I can't see our farmers stepping back from fertilizing their pastures without heavy sanctions.
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      Apr 14 2012: The Colorado no longer flows into the Gulf. The Mississippi carries enough pollutants to cause a dead zone the size of NJ.
      The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is one of the worlds largest and shallowest underground aquifers. It underlies portions of eight states (South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.)
      It is expected to be pumped dry within 25 years.
      Your correct on the cultured land, except it includes micro-crustacia, Mycorrhizae ( a yeast like colonial organism) that establishes a symbiotic relationship with crops and plants. All these are very sensitive to ammonia fertilizer (from oil and the most common source of nitrogen and forms the weakest bond with the soil-thus the most common form to leach into wells and waterways) and pesticides.

      Huber of Perdue has shown plants growing in artificial soils are more prone to diseases, become weak, under produce and easily blow over. But most recently he has observed spontaneous abortion in farm animals feed from GMO crops raised on glyphosate (weed killer) treated land and warns of mutation of GMO alfalfa getting into native grasses.

      I have seen GMO beans with GMO volunteer corn growing in them requiring hand weeding as the corn is glyphosate resistant.
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        Apr 14 2012: The Ogallala Aquifer would not go dry if they simply stopped the subsidies on ethanol.
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          Apr 14 2012: Could you expand pat,it would save me alot of time trawling through the crap sites to find something that looks halfway decent.
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          Apr 15 2012: Corn is much less than half of the irrigated crops. Soybeans, alfalfa and cotton are also huge in size and water needs.
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        Apr 14 2012: I don't know of anything succinct but no will argue that the aquifer is threatened or that ethanol is not economically viable without subsidies or that a huge amount of water goes into the production of ethanol or that food prices go up because of the artificial demand for corn.

        This is not specific to ethanol but alternative energy.

        Watch number 10
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          Apr 14 2012: Thanks,i will after i deal to a toddler demanding breakfast.
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        Apr 15 2012: Greg

        From what I can see about 1/2 of the corn crop goes to ethanol.

        Ethanol has a return of energy on energy invested of about 1-1.5 to 1 as compared to oil at 40 to 1 or coal at 80 to 1

        Since we are talking about a lot of crops here something around 20% - 25% is considerable in usage of the aquifer no? Not to mention the increase of cost to food and the actual subsidy cost from the government it seems like a 3 for 1 deal to get rid of this subsidy. What am I missing?
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          Apr 15 2012: I agree 100%. My passion is not just profit off degrading land and wasting water for corn. All mega agriculture is not in the best interest of the future generations. I think we can lump golf, recreation fields, city and government properties treated like golf courses. The waste of time and money are but the tip of the damage to the life support system.
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          Apr 16 2012: Pat from your point of view.

          How would you change the system?
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        Apr 16 2012: Ken

        The pathology all stems from government getting involved in business. The U.S. is in the advanced stages of this disease that started a little over a hundred years ago with Roosevelt and Wilson.

        If you started taking away the subsidies and started with the biggest ones first by the time you got down to the ones that were $500,000 per year the budget would be balanced.

        The downfall of every empire in the world has been because of overspending with too little production. To get further insight into this;

        IMO the spending has to be severely cut starting with Obamacare, Frank Dodd, Sarbanes Oxley.

        The cure for the disease of the country and the CITIZENS here and abroad is to reinstate the free market to the country. The key part of this is private property as this is key to freedom.

        The one true north is the free market, if you get this no explanation is necessary.
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          Apr 16 2012: Pat I watched the Ferguson TED Talk. My limited understanding became obviously apparent to me AND what I'm discussing is multicultural. We have disrespected the bio community across all cultures.

          If we do not get that correct the free market is insignificant.

          Will the free market assure clean our abundant water?
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        Apr 16 2012: As discussed previously in the case of the Ogallala Aquifer getting government out of that area would be a 3 for 1 deal including your concern.

        The free market always has and always will innovate mankind/agriculture to a higher standard of living and fix the problems. E.G. in the Abundance video Peter talks about a water purification system the size of an office refrigerator that produces 1000 gallons of potable water per day and is potentially going to be distributed by the Coca Cola company. Starts talking about this at 9:50 in the video. Or maybe a fellow like you will come up with a solution.

        One thing for sure is government will not, never has, and never will fix this problem.
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    Apr 14 2012: Desert farming,isn't that a waste of resources on unrecoverable land?
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      Apr 14 2012: Yes but most vegatable crops are grown there or in the drained Everglades.
  • Apr 12 2012: It's really very simple-Go Vegan. All the land used to feed farm animals could be used to grow crops to directly feed humans.far more efficient way of feeding our planet's humans. Reduces pollution. Promotes a healthy and humane lifestyle. From the video, it's seems to be the easiest and most logical.
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    May 2 2012: Has any one read Blue Revolution?

    Heard an interview by Joesph Cooper of WLRN Miami. The author has a great plan. A water ethic. Love it.
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    Apr 26 2012: I want to add this link to give a concise explanation of what we (U.S. and those who will get sucked under when the titanic sinks) are up against that demonstrates that anything other than getting the spending under control is superfluous:
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      Apr 26 2012: Watch that one tomorrow. Early comments say it is inaccurate.

      Did you add your voice to the farm bill as I suggested in an other listing, letting them know to stop subsidies or are you an intellectual with a list of problems and complaints and short on solutions.

      Giving specific ways to cut subsidies is making a difference. Constant mantra of cutting subsidies is too general.
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        Apr 26 2012: Let me know if that is inaccurate, I may have been duped by right wing propaganda?

        But the spending problem is definitely THE problem whether the video is totally accurate or not.

        I don't remember but I usually jump in on any petition that reduces spending.

        Nope not an academic at all.

        The representatives listen to how their constituents vote or threaten to vote which gets their attention more than lobbyists, I fail to see how that can be ineffective short of only do my pet cause and ignore any other pushes to REDUCE SPENDING.
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      Apr 28 2012: I watched it. Did you do anything about the farm bill?

      The 2012 farm bill is coming up for approval. check out Tell your senators: Stop the giveaway to Big Ag. Pass a farm bill that supports local, healthy and organic food. See
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      May 2 2012: Watched it. Way over my level of understanding to know if it is factual. Be damned if I'll accept no solution at all. So lead follow or get out of the way!!
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      Apr 25 2012: Because he is talking about better use of water and not looking at the dry Colorado river. Not looking at the over use of irrigation on poor soils because of farm subsidies. He is not looking at the pollution from mega agriculture. The draining of wet lands for crops that should not be grown in such soil.

      Did you read my original comments?

      I find it interesting you have blocked who your are. Why?
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    Apr 23 2012: While I'm disappointed in my original support of this administration. Going back on staying out of marijuana drug enforcement, closing Guantanamo ; reversing the invasion into privacy, drone killing, Monsanto x in charge of food and dozens more- who is better that stands a chance of making the changes needed?

    My point in being on TED is to make a difference. Discourse is useless without committed action.
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    Apr 21 2012: As a child from Iowa I believed in the simple explanation that obesity came from lack of exercise and over consumption of fats etc.

    That does not explain the obesity epidemic in every animal around humans dogs, cats, rats, and zoo animals.

    The most clear example of that flaw is the epidemic of obesity in six month old children - morbidly obese.

    Chemicals and mutation viruses top the list. In my opinion if it is viruses it is due to chemicals under pinning an immune break down.

    Plants are showing us this. Plant corn and soy long enough, use enough chemicals and mutated plant diseases and resistant weeds take over.
    Farming with chemicals and GMO's is great for profit as long as USDA stays supportive.

    The 2012 farm bill is coming up for approval. check out Tell your senators: Stop the giveaway to Big Ag. Pass a farm bill that supports local, healthy and organic food. See

    I can hear the anti big government nay sayers now but until they are a majority this is the best immediate step.
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      Apr 21 2012: crony capitalism is a part of big government? Do you see that?

      The best immediate step is to educate
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        Apr 23 2012: Yes. how do we show this in a way that makes a difference?
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          Apr 23 2012: It is extremely difficult.

          There are some people who have ideas that will not let them consider anything other than there preconceived notions. This is prevalent on TED. It is ironic that most people who say they are open minded are not.

          I think the Tea party is effective with voters and more importantly with representatives.

          It can be done as it was with Paul Martin in Canada about 30 years ago which made a tremendous difference in Canada's economy today.

          The truth is that if it is not done (especially with upcoming election) this country is toast. But I'm confident that the incumbent is going to be broomed.
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    Apr 16 2012: I will watch this next video but first how do we stop over irrigation? As I write this it came to me. Stop incentivising production for profit and producing a cheap commodity that makes so many companies wealthy using cheap corn to make almost 2000 end products.

    I guess that would apply to pesticides also. If corn was not supported they could not afford to use them. Did I get it?

    As soon as I closed this out I opened an Organic Crop Association e mail and it was all about PACs, lobbying and getting organic farmers more into government. I asked my self how could we of had such success with out the USDA organic standards. Again the speck of awareness you have opened spoke. What about all the weaknesses in the rules that are creeping in because of big corporations that find problems that need, say antibiotics in almonds or some such dilution. You have sure stirred up my mind.
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    Apr 16 2012: Gregg

    You want to touch that life support system? go find the nearest fresh water stream away from the road and nowhere near animal pasture that has Watercress growing in it,it should be shallow and the watercress should make the water look black.Alot of people are put off by the smell which should be wet/earthy,rollup your sleeves and pants(watch out for mozzies if there is any but there shouldn't be)grab a bag and wade in barefoot and start picking.I promise you your feet won't be wrinkled when you emerge and you will walk away different.
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      Apr 16 2012: I grew up in ponds, lakes and rivers in rural Iowa 1942-1960. That is the under pinning of my renaissance in bio community awareness.

      Only after four decades of achieving and accomplishing "greatness" in the veterinary community did I realize I had slipped into a haze of consumerism and ignored the devastation now daily becoming my passion to bring into awareness and alter.
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    Apr 16 2012: Check out TED TALK: Michael Pollan gives a plant's-eye view.
    This thinking got me rolling on all this. See my favorites.
  • Apr 16 2012: Thank you wery much!!
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    Apr 14 2012: In addition to wasting water we are polluting the world.

    Do the members of Ducks unlimited know that the fungicides used in old drained duck incubator habitats are killing the micro-crustacia that feed baby ducks. No micro-crustacia no baby ducks.

    Do the members of The National Audubon Society know they now sell conventionally grown "Supreme Blend - premium quality food for wild birds" at COSCO? Does the public who by the millions feeding back yard birds know the growing practices are not sustainable and they add chemicals to the local habitat that has devistated migratory song birds and ducks. These birds are recovering on organic farms.

    Traditionally insecticides are added to such seeds when packaged to avoid "moths" in stores and homes. Is this practice being done on these premium quality foods? Bet they are.

    How about your vegan foods? Are they free of inhuman practices? If it is inhumane to confinement raise animals so why not inhumane to sterilize the soil and pollute the water when growing grain and nuts? Is not the death of butterflies, moths, worms, the biomass and song birds not of concern?
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    Apr 14 2012: we need to get rid of the subsidies period.
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      Apr 14 2012: Agree but not likely to happen so until then reward the best modes of farming not the most profitable.
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        Apr 14 2012: The most profitable are the most subsidized, e.g. ADM.

        It has been said that if that if you removed most (not all) of the subsidies the U.S. budget would be balanced.

        Your plan may produce some of the results you are looking for but it would be the first one in history that did not have unintended consequences.

        If the spending in the U.S. is not gotten under control the country will collapse at which point the able will be long gone (notice James Cameron moved to N.Z.) and the country will be in anarchy.

        My point is ANYTHING other than getting spending under control is a distant secondary in importance.
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          Apr 14 2012: Organic farming was what we did as the earliest people working plants. The only new thing is if we are going to offer support it should be incentives to earth friendly practices not profit at any cost.
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          Apr 23 2012: Actually Pat, Cameron only came here because we guaranteed zero tax on his next blockbuster if partially made here and threw in a citizenship as an incentive, like we did with Kim Dotcom but when it came to protecting our citizens regardless of how they obtained their citizenship,we failed and in my eyes,lost face.At the moment my countrymen is trying to block sixteen farms from being sold to a chinese group but we need the small change just as much as the big.
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      Apr 23 2012: Who is committed to that that stands a chance of being elected?
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    Apr 13 2012: Agree except cars are not carnivores.

    Secondly agriculture is subsidy driven. So we need subsidies that promote the original ideas.