Through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, as world food production increased and food was plentiful, farms began leaving the Musquodoboit Valley. While the fields remain, they are generally used to produce hay. This creates what, in agricultural nomenclature, is called virgin land. Virgin land is land that has not had a high yield crop grown on it for a very long time. Virgin land tends to be very high in organic matter. When a high yield crop is planted in virgin land, the crop thrives and a bumper crop is the result. I drove though the Musquodoboit Valley this summer, and it is full of virgin land.
In 2012 food prices are on the rise. Corn prices are at an all time high soya bean prices are at an all time high. As climate change continues to disturb the bread baskets of the world, food prices will continue to stay high. This makes farming very attractive and profitable in the province of Nova Scotia. Currently, almost all the corn and soya beans in the world are Roundup Ready. Monsanto, the creator of Roundup, generically modified the corn and soya beans seeds so that the plants grow immune to the Roundup spray; Roundup Ready is the Monsanto trademark for these seeds. If you need to kill weeds in your field and you have Roundup Ready corn planted, you spray Roundup and everything dies except the corn.
Why is this a problem? Since Roundup kills all the life in the soil except the life Monsanto has modified to grow, chemical fertilizer is needed to give the plants the nutrients it needs to thrive. Not all the fertilizer is used up by the plants. When it rains, some of the fertilizer is washed out of the soil and into the rivers and streams nearby. The Musquodoboit River runs through the Musquodoboit Valley to the Musquodoboit harbour. Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from the chemical fertilizer causes dead zones in the ocean. This will destroy the fishing industry in the Musquodoboit Harbour.
We need to create and protect agricultural zones in the Musquodoboit Valley. Ban chemical fertilizers and herbicides in the Musquodoboit Valley, and encourage small family-run organic farms. They can be supported by adding farmer’s markets to HRM, and providing a healthy alternative to the imported food supply we currently have.