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China paper deal is 'societal rape,' Virginia farmer says

Joel Salatin says a subsidized Chinese paper and fertilizer plant will damage agricultural lands in Virginia.
Joel Salatin says a subsidized Chinese paper and fertilizer plant will damage agricultural lands in Virginia.
Courtesy photo

A leader in Virginia’s “sustainable agriculture” movement says an incoming Chinese paper-and-fertilizer plant is anything but.

And he accuses politicians of squandering tax dollars on the venture.

“To use taxpayer funding to attract a business predicated fundamentally on an anti-ecology premise indicates both political and societal rape of nature’s template,” Joel Salatin said.

Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah Valley, said plans by Tranlin Inc. to convert farm field “waste” into paper and fertilizer go against the grain of long-term land use.

“In a properly functioning agricultural system, wheat straw, peanut hulls and corn fodder would never be a ‘waste stream.’ Nature intends this carbon to feed the soil on site, either through direct residue application or via compost as livestock bedding,” he said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe says Tranlin, which promises to hire 2,000 workers, will help power Virginia’s “21st century economy.”

Todd Haymore, Virginia secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, calls Tranlin good for the state’s farmers.

Tranlin represents a tremendous opportunity for Virginia’s corn and small grain producers by creating a lucrative new market for agricultural residuals that are typically left in the field,” Haymore said in a statement.

“Based on the agricultural supply chain opportunities associated with the project, the economic benefit to farmers in this region alone could exceed $50 million per year.”

As Watchdog reported, Tranlin stands to receive at least $31 million in local and state government subsidies and tax breaks.

Salatin predicts farmers will reap a vicious whirlwind.

“Let’s think about this a minute. Nature converts solar energy, on site, into biomass to either digest or decompose proximate to its growth.”

Stripping off farm field “waste,” Salatin said, merely increases the demand for evermore fertilizers.

“The fields generating this alleged carbon waste are being kept productive — for now — with chemical fertilizers produced using astronomical amounts of petroleum,” he said.

Tranlin aims to produce fertilizer with a “black liquor” cocktail that results from its paper-making process.

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