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Farm News & Views for week of June 19, 2023

New York may become the first state in the country to ban the use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds if Governor Hochul signs the Birds and Bees Protection Act, which would eliminate 80-90% of the neonics entering New York’s environment by prohibiting neonic uses that extensive Cornell University research found were unnecessary or were easily replaced with safer alternatives. The Cornell research also found that the seed treatments provide no overall income benefit to the net farm income of farmers using the seed treatments. The bill would also bans the use of neonics in lawn products. In Quebec and Ontario, it’s reported that farmers have almost completely phased out neonic corn and soybean coatings without negative effects on yields or the necessity of switching to more harmful pesticides.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted to attach a rider to the annual USDA-FDA spending bill to give the USDA the task of taking steps that may be necessary to prevent China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran from buying U.S. farmland. However there are questions concerning whether the USDA has the authority to intrude on land sales to foreign entities. The Committee also voted to decline Democratic amendments to put more money into WIC for fruit and vegetable allowances, and to restore a $2 billion fund for financially distressed farmers. Meanwhile over in the Senate, seven farm-state senators announced legislation to prohibit states from regulating agricultural production in other states as a counter to California’s Proposition 12, which prohibits the sale of meat and eggs in the state that don’t meet California’s standards for treatment of livestock and poultry.

Three weeks ago, I reported that the Drought Monitor Map indicated that in states east of the Mississippi, drought conditions weren’t affecting agricultural producers. Although at that point in time, areas of the Corn Belt were dry, last week’s map shows moderate drought conditions affecting many farmers in the upper Midwest extending into Pennsylvania. Agricultural publications are reporting that farmers in the region are becoming alarmed about dry conditions affecting the growth of corn and soybeans, and the possibility that the outlook for good crop yields may have only been wishful thinking after they had good luck getting their crops planted early in the growing season.

Colorado Department of Agriculture has announced that it has begun its annual monitoring season for agricultural pests, and the agency is asking residents to beware of traps in local parks, forests and campgrounds and to leave them alone. Recent pests of concern include Emerald Ash Borer and Japanese Beetle, while Spotted Lanternfly and Asian Longhorned Beetle have not been found in Colorado, they’re of concern because of the damage they do to trees and agricultural crops. The Spotted Lanternfly is native to Asia and was first detected in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania, but can now be found in several U.S. Eastern states despite major quarantine efforts. It can cause irreparable damage to grapevines and other crops, including peach trees. Due to the Lanternfly’s ability to migrate on vehicles, including boats and RVs, the chances of the pest arriving in Colorado are significant. To combat the Asian Longhorned Beetle since 1996, more than 110,000 trees have been removed as part of the eradication programs in parts of the eastern U.S.

Will Rogers said: “People's minds are changed through observation and not through argument.”

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.