We live in the Southeast and we live here by grace of my husband's job in agricultural research.
We have just heard word that the federal budget cuts stand a bigger chance than usual of doing away with the job brought us here from New York state when our son was a baby. We would not be alone; under the current congressional budget, the entire research facility would close. Other agricultural research stations around the country are "on the cutting block."
I can first be grateful that we have lived within ten miles of this research facility for the past ten years. At one time, my husband and I both commuted 100 miles to jobs we held in different communities. His job has supported our family well. My husband has flourished and made solid contributions to his area of scientific research, successfully bringing in grant moneys that have helped support the center, too. There are many other, very tangible, things to be grateful for before I start to get anxious about the future.
This is a one-day-at-a-time proposition for me. I appreciate each day more keenly, knowing there is the possibility this could be our last spring here. I appreciate my friends and the progress I have made with my emotional triggers.
Today I was especially grateful to hear my husband say the staff at the center were advised to tell others outside of the agency that they are "cautiously optimistic" about the research facility's chances of surviving the current budget cuts. This is quite a different story than the one my husband has been sharing with me, extended family and acquaintances lately. To be honest, I was not comfortable with his talking so earnestly about the potential for this to be our last few months in our current home town. I don't like announcing stuff like that prematurely.
On the other hand, I guess it is important to be open and share. If we want others to speak on our behalf, they do need to know the story.....
I seem to be getting the message that there is a story to write about this, for a wider readership. I am finding, from casual conversations, that most people have no idea how fragile our soils are, and how important this research facility is to the future of farming in this country. The site where my husband works was the first research site devoted to "healing" soil erosion back in the Dust Bowl era.
Lest you think erosion is a thing of the past, believe me, as a country we have not put an end to the destructive mining of soil (and oil) for agriculture. Another thing: Some of our best soils are under concrete for development of industrial parks and housing. I grew up in Washington state, and the entire Kent Valley was an agricultural paradise. No longer.
Think about this, when you see land being entirely cleared, its organic horizon upended or stripped away, for the building of a last crop... of houses...