Friday, September 18, 2009

Idaho Agriculture Groups Endorse Monsanto Mine



Leaders Say Proposed Blackfoot Bridge Mine Will
Provide Key Food Growing Product

Leaders from a broad spectrum of Idaho’s agriculture community announced support today of Monsanto’s proposed Blackfoot Bridge phosphate mine, which will allow for the continued domestic production of specialty herbicides that help farmers produce food more efficiently, and do so in an environmentally sound manner.

“As the world’s population continues to grow and we see staggering population growth figures for the years 2025 and beyond, the need for an adequate food supply becomes more and more evident,” said Rick Waitley, executive director of the Food Producers of Idaho. “The treasure of the Blackfoot Bridge Mine is key to meeting the food production needs of the future. Agriculture around the world looks to this resource to meet the future food supply need.”

The Food Producers is just one of several agriculture organizations that have joined to endorse the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “Preferred Alternative” put forth in the agency’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Blackfoot Bridge mine. Along with Waitley’s organization, representatives of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, the Idaho Grain Producers Association, and the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association jointly endorsed Alternative 1A, the BLM’s preferred course of action. In addition, the Food Producers of Idaho represents more than 20 Idaho agriculture organizations.

If approved by the BLM, Blackfoot Bridge will replace the South Rasmussen Mine as the provider of feedstock for Monsanto’s elemental phosphorous plant just outside Soda Springs. That plant is the only source of elemental phosphorus in the United States, and as the BLM’s EIS points out, without Blackfoot Bridge the plant will likely have to close. Monsanto uses the elemental phosphorous produced at Soda Springs as the primary building block in Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide.

Frank Priestly, president of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation added, “Roundup is a valuable tool that helps American farmers feed the world. This is the only source of elemental phosphorus in the United States. Without it, we will have to rely on China. That’s one reason we’re encouraging our members to become familiar with the project and submit comments on the project to the BLM.”

“Blackfoot bridge is doubly important for us,” said Scott Brown, Vice President of the Idaho Grain Producers Association. “As Idahoans, we’re concerned about the 770 good-paying jobs and solid tax base that Monsanto’s operations provide. As farmers, we value how glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup help us stay competitive and efficient.”

Brown said that in addition to the importance of a safe, reliable, U.S. source of glyphosate, another factor in supporting the project is the fact the BLM and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality took Monsanto’s mining proposal and upgraded it to ensure that selenium is contained and the environment is protected. “It’s clear Monsanto and the agencies are taking extra measures to protect the environment, and particularly water quality,” he added. “I farm near the mine, so I have a direct stake in its safety.”

Alternative 1A sets strict environmental safeguards and reclamation standards for the Blackfoot Bridge mine. The plan includes the use of a laminated geosynthetic clay liner to cover and contain selenium that may be present in waste rock to protect the Blackfoot River from any detectable increases in selenium.

“The old saying that, ‘If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined,’ really applies to this project” said Mark Duffin of the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association. “Blackfoot Bridge is where modern agriculture and environmentally sound mining come together to benefit the public.”

The Idaho Farm Bureau has set up a page on its website with information about the mine and its impact on food production, and also with a link to submit comments to the BLM. Just go to: http://www.idahofb.org/ and click on “Monsanto Mine.”

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