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Farm News & Views - April 5, 2022

As we move into April, former baseball coach Yogi Berra’s famous quote, “deja vu all over again” comes to mind concerning the outlook for irrigation water in the Four Corners this year. A year ago, my report noted that snowpack runoff was expected to be 65% to 85% of normal, and irrigation water supplies would likely be cut in half. Although snowpack levels are similar this year, water managers expect that the supply will be tight, but better, because the ground was wet going into the winter, and we’ve had more consistent snow events over the winter that will assure that that snow melt will end up in rivers and reservoirs rather than being absorbed by dry soils.

In Montezuma County we’ve had about 2 inches of precipitation since the beginning of the year, but Farmers in southeast Colorado’s Baca County have received four tenths of an inch of moisture since November. Brad Rippey, USDA meteorologist, notes that areas of five states, centered on the Oklahoma Panhandle, extending into New Mexico, Texas, southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado, is now called the new Dust Bowl. In the Southwest, the Rio Verde Foothills community on the outskirts of Scottsdale, Arizona, were informed that their water supply from Scottsdale would be shut off at the end of this year. The community has no municipal water system, so residents have depended on water haulers to transport water from Scottsdale’s system to their homes ever since the community was established. But with Scottsdale’s water from the Central Arizona Project being cut, the city’s administration decided to shut off water sales to water haulers.

Over the past couple of years, the Easter Bunny has had a tough time delivering Easter eggs. First, disruptions of egg production brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is messing with the bunny’s plans to deliver Easter eggs to girls and boys. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reports that almost 23 million broiler and egg producing chickens, turkeys and other poultry have died or have been destroyed after flocks have been infected with HPAI in the U.S. As of yesterday, commercial and backyard flocks in 23 states have been infected by the disease. While no cases have been reported in the Four Corners Region, the USDA recommends that poultry producers implement biosecurity measures to prevent wild birds from contacting domestic poultry flocks. So it might be a good idea for the Easter bunny to stockpile eggs this year to assure that youngsters won’t be disappointed on Easter morning. An informative article about HPAI is at: https://www.agriculture.com/livestock/poultry/avian-influenza-reported-in-michigan-in-non-poultry-flock

Last week I mentioned that the American Farm Bureau Federation, grain trading groups, and apparently some Republican politicians had urged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to open up Conservation Reserve lands for crop production, claiming that the conflict in Ukraine posed a food security risk. Vilsack was quick to say no. He pointed out that acres enrolled in CRP are largely non-prime farmland, are grasslands or suited for grazing, not crop production, and that a considerable proportion of these acres are in areas experiencing significant drought.

Below is an interesting video concerning farmland in Ukraine:

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Contentment is the philosopher’s stone that turns all it touches into gold.”

Bob has been an agricultural educator and farm and ranch management consultant for over 40 years in southwest Colorado. He writes about agricultural issues from his farm near Cortez, and has helped to produce farm reports on KSJD for more than a dozen years.