Puritan Justice for Polluters, Dirt Cheap Farmland and U.S. Average Life Expectancy

This short series of reports includes new briefs on a company convicted of illegally dumping toxic wastes taking on their own puritan style punishment, the average value of U.S. farmland is dirt cheap and the latest information on the U.S. average life expectancy.


| September/October 1985



095-012-01

A company convicted of illegally dumping toxic wastes took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times to confess its sins against the environment.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

News briefs on the puritan style justice for environmental polluters, dirt cheap farmland and the latest information on the U.S. average life expectancy. 

Biological Pest Controls

Almost every month brings news of another promising biological pest control. The latest USDA find is a tiny South American wasp, Edovum puttleri, which attacks the eggs of the Colorado potato beetle, the number one pest of potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants in the U.S. The wasps parasitized 60 to 80% of potato beetle eggs in preliminary field trials. Edovum puttleri is also easy to raise, which should please vegetable farmers, who spend more than $120 million a year to control the insecticide-resistant beetle.

Puritan Justice for Environmental Polluters

It sounds like the modern equivalent of a scarlet letter: As part of its punishment, a company convicted of illegally dumping toxic wastes took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times to confess its sins against the environment. The advertisement, which cost the offender $15,000, began, "Warning: The illegal disposal of toxic wastes will result in jail. We should know. We got caught."

In addition, the company, the American Caster Corporation, was fined $20,000 and had to pay for cleaning up the site. The president and vice president were presented with six-month jail sentences.

Dirt Cheap Farmland

Just a few years ago, while the average value of U.S. farmland was climbing to the 1982 peak of $823 an acre, analysts were insistent that the price would rise indefinitely. Farmers took them at their word and began buying up available land; land speculation followed; many experts claimed that land was a safer investment than a savings account.

When land values declined slightly two or three years ago, most investors hoped prices were merely leveling off before beginning another inflationary spiral. But now the new trend is unmistakable: The value of U.S. farmland dropped more in the past year than at any time since 1933, down 13.2% to $679 an acre, according to the latest USDA figures. That's bad news for debt-ridden farmers, whose borrowing power has declined with land values.





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