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Farm News & Views - November 22, 2022

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, it’s time to talk about the American Farm Bureau’s annual Thanksgiving survey that shows the average cost of the classic meal for 10 family members and guests. This year, the number is just over $64, or about six and a half dollars per person. That’s an increase of 20% over last years $53 for the meal, give or take a few pennies, but this year’s cost is a whopping 36% increase from 2020. However, before we start to blame farmers, understand that they only receive eight cents of every retail dollar spent on food in this country, which means that the farmers who raised the food we’ll stuff ourselves with on Thursday will get only $5 of the $64 that consumers are expected to spend on this year’s Thanksgiving meal.

Livestock producers large and small need to be aware that in 2023, the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine’s plan for supporting veterinary antimicrobial stewardship will be fully implemented. This means that medically important antibiotics that are used for both humans and animals will be available by prescription-only. So producers with a current veterinarian-client-patient relationship may purchase antibiotics directly from their veterinarian or from a distributor with a prescription from their vet. A current veterinarian-client-patient relationship is a formal business relationship that producers have with veterinarians who provide all of the primary care for a producers animals, and who is also familiar with a producer’s livestock and operation. Veterinarians recommend that producers establish this relationship before a livestock emergency occurs that may require antibiotic treatment.

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Agriculture released the Rural America at a Glance: 2022 Edition, an annual report that notes the changing structure of economic sectors, the labor force, and job growth in rural America. The report found that for the first time, more than one in five rural Americans is over the age of 65, and rural America is aging more rapidly than the rest of the country. The agency also pointed out that the rural workforce is shrinking in numbers but is becoming more racially diverse. The report also noted that “The aging of the baby-boom generation…will continue to contribute to the loss of working-age adults through the end of this decade.” About 46.1 million people, or 14% of the U.S. population, lived in rural counties in 2021, sand is spread across 72% of the nation’s land mass.

While we commonly hear about the problems that urban businesses, both large and small, have filing job openings, the same is true in agriculture. According to Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, farmers and their co-ops are having trouble filling thousands of on-farm jobs across the country, which is impacting food production. Farmers and agribusiness leaders have called on the Senate to take up and pass a version of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, that approved in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. That bill calls for modernization of immigration rules for farmworkers. Farmers and coop members are concerned that if the Senate doesn’t act, it may be years before their labor crisis is addressed.

Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and philosopher Cicero wrote: “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues."

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.