Ideas. Stories. Community.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Farm News & Views - April 4, 2023

According to the Environment Protection Agency, over the last decade, the Earth has been reacting to alterations in the atmosphere, creating a drastic change that is increasing in the number of days in a growing season for most states, especially California, which had its season increase by two days. In the last 30 years, the average length of a growing season in the United States has increased by two weeks,. The agency also reports that farming and ranching is contributing only 10% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

A National Young Farmers Coalition survey of more than 10,000 farmers under age 40 found that 93% of them had never used a USDA program, which concerns policy campaign co-director Vanessa Garcia Polanco, because she believes that this entire new generation feels that the USDA has forgotten them. With the average U.S. farmer approaching 60 years old, the Coalition is calling on Congress to pass a 2023 Farm Bill that supports the next generation of young and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color farmers and farm workers to carry the nation’s food systems forward. Polanco points out that the survey found that the top challenge cited by young farmers is land access, and this barrier is increasing: 59% of young farmers named finding affordable land to buy as very or extremely challenging, an increase from the 39% who cited it as a significant challenge in 2017.

USDA recently reported that beef production is decreasing in 2023. In the last four weeks, beef production has averaged 6.4 percent lower compared to the same period last year, which is the result of decreases in both cattle slaughter and carcass weights. Steer slaughter is down 5.3% year over year in the last month and steer carcass weights have averaged 903 pounds, down 16 pounds from a year ago.

According to Farm Progress Magazine, livestock producers who graze on federal lands in Western states could find themselves competing with leases that would idle grazing land if a proposed rule announced by the Biden administration comes into play. The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management announced a change concerning oversight by the agency on 245 million acres of federal land that would allow 10-year conservation leases, similar to leases for grazing, timber harvest, mining, energy production and other uses. The "Public Lands Rule" also would assess the health of public lands, by applying standards to examine watersheds, forests and wildlife habitat. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland points out that "As the nation continues to face unprecedented drought, increasing wildfires and the declining health of our landscapes, our public lands are under growing pressure, and it is our responsibility to use the best tools available to restore wildlife habitat, plan for smart development, and conserve the most important places for the benefit of the nation.”

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an energy overhaul bill, mostly along party lines, but a roll-call vote also demonstrated strong bipartisan support for banning Chinese ownership of U.S. farm ground. The bill was passed 407-26 with 223 Republicans and 184 Democrats agreeing to add language to the energy bill that would prohibit the Chinese government or any agent from the Chinese Communist Party from buying interest in U.S. farmland or land used to produce renewable energy.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “A lie stands on one leg, truth on two.”

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.