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Why Do We Still Burn Fields?

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Why do we still insist on burning our fields as a means of ridding them of stubble and preparing for planting?

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? The burning has to stop.

My lungs thank you in advance.

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