Untitled Document
     
 
Open Letter to a Texas Senator - Energy Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture
 
 
 


Robert Cheeke
Austin, TX 78727

Dear Senator Hutchison,

We have a growing problem in the United States in the area of energy conservation and responsible use of energy. I applaud you for your May 4, 2012 statement about energy in which you state, “We need to continue energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources. But the crucial missing piece of our national energy strategy is development of our abundant natural resources.”

In Texas we have the largest contiguous state and have a wonderful opportunity to be a national leader, by the example we set. On your website you state: “Agriculture is a special and important part of the Texas way of life. Texas is home to approximately 250,000 farms which accounts for nearly 130,400,000 acres. Farming and ranching are our heritage, and they continue to be an important part of our culture today.”

While I agree that farming is a way of life in Texas and in many parts of our great nation, it is the farming practices that concern me, especially in the area of energy conservation. Consider these staggering statistics.

• Grains consumed by US livestock could feed 840 million people. (Pimentel, 2003)

• In the US, 80% of our fresh water is used for food production. (Pimentel, 2003)

• 1 kilogram of animal protein requires 100 times more water to produce than 1 kilogram of plant protein.

• Fossil fuel use for animal protein production is approximately 11 times greater than for plant protein production.

It seems only logical and responsible to recognize that our energy problems are associated with not only fossil fuel, coal and natural gas reserves, but in the decisions we make about what crops to grow and for what particular reason we grow them. If we could grow plant crops to feed directly to humans, bypassing the massive energy-consuming step of feeding, growing, producing and harvesting animals to then feed to humans, we would be saving an incredible amount of fuel, water, and total energy. This could be one solution to your concern you expressed about President Obama’s role in managing domestic fuel prices, just one aspect of your overall concern with energy use, which is a concern many of your fellow Texans and US citizens share.

By dramatically cutting the use of fuel by altering our current farm practices, we can reduce the demand and perhaps reduce fuel prices, while exploring energy-saving methods and investing in discovering new fuel-efficient technology. Wind, solar, and responsible farming practices, growing plant foods directly for humans, all aid in this effort of forward progress, setting an example as a national leader in innovation and conservation.

What I propose is taking a keen look into the true cost of animal food production, factoring in government subsidies, and constructing a new plan and new direction for our Texas farmers. We can be a national leader, exemplifying how to maximize our over 130 million acres of farmland to produce healthy food for our country, while dramatically freeing up our precious resources including, fuel, water and energy. Please help in the removal of government subsidies for the most energy-intensive crops by empowering our state’s farmers to adapt to the changing times by focusing on the production of plant foods rather than animal foods.

Thank you for your time.

Robert Cheeke
Proud Texan