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Farm News & Views - August 2, 2022

Last week, two pieces of legislation were announced, that if passed, will likely impact farmers, ranchers and rural residents. The first is included in the $600 or $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which, according to a Senate Agriculture Committee report would pump about $20 billion into existing agricultural initiatives that are currently oversubscribed USDA programs that incentivize green farming practices and limit greenhouse gas emissions. The bill also includes $14 billion to lower costs for families and support good-paying clean energy jobs in rural communities, and another $5 billion to protect communities from wildfires while combating the climate crisis and supporting the workforce through climate-smart forestry. The second bill, coming out of the House agriculture committee, is titled the Small Family Farmer and Rancher Relief Act, which proposes to increase the safety net for small ranchers who have 100 or fewer animals by increasing competition and market access.

The American Farmland Trust organization promotes efforts to protect agricultural land, environmentally sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on their land. The organization’s initiative, “Farms Under Threat” is a multi-year effort to document the extent, diversity, location, and quality of agricultural land in the continental U. S. It also lays out what the threats are to this land from expanding commercial, industrial, and residential development. The report shows that, if this trend continues, 18.4 million acres of farm and ranch land will be converted between 2016 and 2040. That’s an area nearly the size of South Carolina. Of this total, 6.2 million acres will be converted to urban and highly developed land uses such as commercial buildings, industrial sites, and moderate-to-high-density residential development. The remaining 12.2 million acres, will be converted to low-density residential areas, ranging from large-lot subdivisions to rural areas with a proliferation of scattered houses. Their website, Farms Under Threat, has interactive maps that link viewers to analysis of policies that lead to agricultural land conversion. This map takes users to individual states and counties to determine the impact that these forces may have on those areas.

The drop in cattle numbers over the past couple of years due to drought in the west is leading to the possibility of higher beef prices for consumers in the future, which concerns producers, because consumers may shift to less expensive chicken and pork. But cattlemen are also concerned that lower beef supplies in the U. S. will reduce exports. Currently the U. S. is the third largest exporter of beef in the world, behind Brazil and Australia. US producers are concerned that they may lose market share to these two countries in the future if they’re unable to fill the current demand.

Monsoon rain events have been very patchy in the Four Corners Region this summer. Rainfall during July, recorded at the Cortez Municipal Airport, amounted to half an inch, while a weather observer in the Pleasant View area recorded almost two and a half inches of rain. National Weather Service long range prediction for August shows a possibility of above average precipitation in the Region.

American naturalist and author Henry David Thoreau wrote, “One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter."

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.