Why Do Farmers Still Burn Their Fields?
As I headed home last night, I turned on to Highway 30 and started toward Buhl. Immediately I could see huge plumes of smoke that appeared to be coming from somewhere right outside of Twin, but as drove I found the smoke was actually emanating from Filer.
Several fields were on fire almost directly across from Filer High School, and smoke was choking the city of Filer. The poor track athletes were actually out practicing in all of that smoke.
I understand that burning stubble off is a low-cost method to make fields ready for seeding, but there has to be a better way. For people like me with asthma and allergies, the smoke adds to the already high pollen count and makes breathing a nightmare.
In 2007, SAFE (Safe Air For Everyone) actually won a legal battle to have Idaho's field burning program shut down. Burning resumed in 2008 following a mediated agreement between SAFE, growers, and the state, but that agreement is being altered further now to allow weekend burning. SAFE is once again threatening legal action on behalf of those of us who's breathing conditions are aggravated by the smoke.
I know there are other alternatives to burning, but I also know they cost more and are more labor-intensive. There has to be some kind of compromise. What can we do to help the farmers so they don't have to burn anymore?
My lungs thank you in advance.