Fracking and Farming Are Not Compatible

By Joanna Green

In 2011, Groundswell Advisers agreed unanimously to take a stand in opposition to hydraulic fracturing in our region. Director Joanna Green submitted the following comments to NYS Department of Environmental Conservation on January 11:

I am commenting on behalf of the staff, Steering Committee and Advisors of the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming based in Ithaca. NY. We urge that DEC withdraw the draft SGEIS on the basis of its failure to evaluate the potential for unparalleled negative impacts on the integrity and economic viability of agriculture in our state.

As an organization devoted to agricultural and food system education, Groundswell collaborates with dozens of farmers, food businesses, educational institutions, organizations and community groups here in central New York in order to build a resilient, ecologically sound and equitable food system for our region. In our first two years of programming we have provided intensive training and education for over one hundred aspiring and beginning farmers.

These farmers are dedicating their lives to creating a strong and enduring agriculture that will continue to feed us here in New York and the wider region for generations to come; an agriculture that is responsible to our local communities and to our neighbors downstream. They are ready to invest everything they have in creating a sustainable and abundant future for New York.
Groundswell is a very young organization and we have no precedent for taking positions on matters of public policy. However, after much discussion our diverse group of almost 30 Advisors agreed unanimously to take a stand in opposition to hydraulic fracturing in our region. We have taken this action because the evidence suggests hydrofracking is likely to have serious detrimental impacts on the economic viability and ecological sustainability of our farms and wineries, our regional food system, and our communities.

New York State is on the verge of an agricultural renaissance. This revival of interest in farming, especially in our youth, has the potential to create thousands of new jobs and livelihoods, reduce our medical costs, and feed hungry communities, all while conserving our natural resources. If we choose to support a method of energy extraction that displaces and deters farming entrepreneurs, hinders regional agricultural investment, and damages our resource base, we are seriously undermining upstate New York’s most vital economic engine, and weakening the foundation for a robust and sustainable regional food system. And we are nipping in the bud the dreams and destinies of our future farmers.

We believe a better approach is to foster a diversity of economic strategies and land-based solutions that strengthen our communities and protect our future. New York State is blessed with a vibrant diversity of land-based enterprises that contribute significantly to the State’s economy and to our social and cultural vitality. We understand that if we want to see our agricultural economy and our farming families prosper in the future, we must protect the integrity of the resource base which sustains this economy and this way of life.