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Farm News & Views - August 30, 2022

The recently signed Inflation Reduction Act, is a $739 billion bill that is in part, focused on encouraging renewable energy and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The bill also includes programs for climate-smart agriculture and rural renewable energy, while providing additional tax credits to incentivize electrical generation from wind turbines and solar panels. While these programs sound good for energy production in the U.S., many farmers, ranchers and rural communities will likely bare the brunt of impacts from solar and wind farm projects, according to farmers and ranchers who are already dealing with similar installations. Most county governments welcome green energy development because they generate more than electricity, like higher taxes when land is converted from growing crops to energy production, and jobs, too, some of which remain after solar arrays or wind turbines are put into fields and pastures. Farmers who are ready to retire are also happy to have the opportunity to lease land at rates much higher than they can receive for conventional crop leases. But the losers include ag producers and rural residents, who have to deal additional traffic on country roads, changes to the views of the rural landscape from their kitchen windows, and rising crop rental rates, which are especially tough on young, beginning farmers, who are are seeing cropland rental rates increasing beyond what entry level farmers can pay and still make a profit.

For the third winter season in a row, Pacific Ocean equator-region temperatures and barometric pressure values are expected to be in La Niña category, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). La Niña represents the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, and it’s defined as: "the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific." The problem with La Niña is that associated wind patterns set up large-scale high pressure off the west coast of North America along with the development of a jet stream track which runs from the Gulf of Alaska southeast to the Ohio Valley, then curving back to the northeast toward the northeastern U.S. and the St. Lawrence River Valley in southeastern Quebec, Canada. From this track, normal precipitation patterns are changed, with the northwestern U.S., Midwest and southwestern Canada having moderate to heavy precipitation, while dry conditions are seen elsewhere, especially the Southern Plains. This year, the active summer monsoon season has brought in sometimes heavy rains in parts of the Southwest, while tropical disturbances from the Gulf of Mexico brought rains into Texas during mid-August. The NOAA map below depicts the predicted track of the Jet Stream and the impact of La Niña on precipitation in the U.S.

Although we think of livestock rustling as a practice out of the old west, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food reported that as of July, the agency had received missing livestock reports for 77 head of cattle, five horses/mules, and one sheep or goat; of those 83 animals, seven have been found. The department also had received seven reports of suspicious livestock deaths that are currently under investigation. A reward of $20,000 is offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in the theft, mutilation, or malicious killing of livestock.

Benjamin Franklin wrote: “ When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”

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.