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Farm News & Views - November 29, 2022

With Thanksgiving out of the way, we can start thinking in earnest about Christmas. Now I’m not much of a Christmas shopper, but I do enjoy having a Christmas tree, even if it’s up for only a few days. While some folks opt for an artificial tree, a National Christmas Tree Association survey found that 81% of respondents agreed that real trees smell like Christmas. While farmers growing conifer trees for Christmas face some stiff competition from the fake trees, the Association reports that 25to 30 million real Christmas trees are still purchased from 15,000 tree farms scattered across the U.S. Christmas tree lovers in the Four Corners Region can purchase a permit from the Forest Service or BLM and make memories of our own while going out to harvest the perfect tree on public lands. Whether we buy a real tree from a lot or cut our own, the association has some tips for keeping trees green for the holiday season. First, keep the tree hydrated. If you cut a tree, put it in water within a couple hours after harvesting it. If the tree is purchased from a tree lot, cut off an inch from the bottom of the trunk before putting it in water. The key for keeping a real tree fresh for the holiday season is to make sure that it’s standing in water from the time you bring it home until it’s put out either for recycling or re-purposing it as a bird feeder. More tips concerning care of real Christmas trees are online at realchristmastrees.org.

Farmers, ranchers, and forest managers can now take a nationwide survey to help the U.S. Department of Agriculture improve and increase access to its programs and services. The survey is open to new and existing customers, and is available online at farmers.gov/survey until March 31st, 2023. The survey is voluntary, anonymous, and will take about 10 minutes to complete.

While there has been a lot of attention payed to the somewhat troubled U.S. economy and the effects of inflation this year, farmers have managed to have a pretty good year, even with a 50% decrease in government payments and a $66 billion increase in expenses, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that 2022 farm cash receipts will be over $525 billion. That's $91.7 billion higher than in 2021. Net farm income, a broad indicator of profits, is forecast to be $147.7 billion, an increase of $7.3 billion from 2021.

Ag-related companies have also done well. For example, Deere & Company, the largest farm equipment manufacturer in the world, reported net income of over $7.1 billion, so I suspect that farmers have been unloading some of their earnings on Deere & Company, and other equipment manufacturers to upgrade and renew equipment in their machinery sheds while they had a little bit of cash, and the dealers finally had had tractors, tillage and harvest equipment on their lots.

Since I’m training a six month old pup, I can relate to this John Stinebeck quote: “I’ve seen a look in dog’s eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I’m convinced that basically, dogs think humans are nuts.”

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.