Recently, on a trip to North Dakota, I had the pleasure of staying with one of the areas largest local farmers - Jerry Seibold. While taking a tour of his fifteen hundred acre farm, I noticed large parcels of land that were not being cultivated. At the time, I had just assumed that he did not have the resources to farm all of his land, or there was something mechanically wrong with the soil composition that caused that portion of the farm to be "unfarmable." However, after conversing with him after he got his combine (a very large farming tractor) stuck, I learned that the "stupid government" has placed restrictions on backfilling, and the unfarmed portions of his land had soil that was too wet for farming. The wet spots, caused by low grades in the soil, could not be backfilled regardless of the amount of farmland they overtook, and more importantly, there was no regard for the significance of the "wet lands" that were being protected. Jerry informed me, while congress considered the wording of the bill and what it should include, he and a group of local farmers had first hand experience in dealing with Congress and the people doing the research on the bill. Unsatisfied as he was with the results, I found his experience fascinating, and we talked for hours.
Although he understood the necessity to protect the wetlands and all of the species that reside in them, Jerry was perturbed with the government protecting large portions of land that did not appear to be significant in any way. The restriction of backfilling, in some circumstances, protects areas where no water exists, and creates a situation in which large areas of "mud" are being protected. After posing a good argument that our government has people creating its agricultural policies that have never so much as lifted a rake, and seeing his frustration, I thought to myself: "Could it be true that our government does not know what they are doing?" and "Do we have, and abide by numerous ignorant laws created by people that truly do not know the effects of the outcomes?" Following a bill through the approval process would prove to be a good way to answer all of my concerns regarding the legislation passed by our country's legislators.
After hours of research, I could not find the agricultural bill that ultimately banned farmers from backfilling their land to protect wetlands - most likely due to the limitation of having access only to bills passed in the last ten years (only the last five sessions of Congress are available for research). However, I came across an original bill drafted for the purposes of ensuring that federally funded agricultural research, extension, and education programs address high-priority concerns - bill S 1150. Although I would not be able to have the same firsthand encounter with the outcomes of the legislation, this bill will suit my purposes of exploration just as well.
Because authorization for current budget and research programs were due...