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Farm News & Views for week of August 14, 2023

Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to pass a right-to-repair agricultural equipment law in May of this year. But equipment manufacturers contend that the Federal Clean Air Act doesn't allow farmers and independent repair shops to repair emissions apparatus on equipment, raising concerns about liability for improper or even potentially dangerous repairs. Recently, EPA Administrator Michael Regan stated in a letter to National Farmers Union that nothing in the Clean Air Act forbids farmers and independent repair shops from making these repairs, and he also pointed out that the Clean Air Act actually encourages such repairs, regardless of who makes them, and the Clean Air Act or the EPA's regulations doesn’t limit a manufacturer's ability to provide service tools and information to consumers and independent repair facilities for the purpose of repairing their equipment.

Over the past couple of years, the high inflation rate has affected the average consumer as well as farmers and ranchers, who have paid more for fuel, fertilizer and other crop inputs. Farm production expenses jumped more than 15% in 2022 with increases in every area tracked by USDA, according to a report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farm expenses hit almost $453 billion in 2022, up from about $393 billion in 2021, while livestock farms saw expenses increase 18.1%. Feed topped the expenses at $81 billion, while other livestock, poultry and related expenses were over $43 billion, and farm services were $20 billion. But according to the recently released Agricultural Land Values Report, crop and pasture land prices have also undergone inflation. They found that farm real estate value in the U.S., a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged almost $4100 per acre for 2023, up $280 per acre or 7.4% from the 2022 report. Cropland values averaged almost $5,500 per acre, an increase of $410 per acre or 8.1%, and pasture values averaged $1,760 per acre, an increase of $110 per acre or, 6.7% from 2022. The Mountain region that includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming reported the lowest farm real estate value per acre at $1,450, up 4.3% from 2022, and the Northern Plains states, including Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, reported highest change in average land values at $3,160 per acre, that’s up from almost 14% from last year.

The Drought monitor map indicates that drought conditions continue to expand in the Four Corners Region and beyond, while the National Weather Service forecast concerning precipitation for the Region is predicting below normal precipitation through October in most of New Mexico, western Colorado and eastern Utah and Arizona.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey wrote: “The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”

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.