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Farm News & Views for the week of November 27, 2023

Proposition 12, is the California law that sets size specifications for housing for pigs, laying hens and calves that are in confinement. The law also states that all pork products, eggs, and veal sold in California must be raised with the same specifications as is required for California producers. That requirement encouraged the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, to make an attempt to overturn the law at the Supreme Court. Since the Court ruled against their appeal, the National Pork Producers are supporting the EATS Act, which is a bill that would allow virtually anyone, producers, distributors, consumers, and laborers to file suit in federal court to invalidate a state or local “standard or precondition on the pre-harvest production of any agricultural products sold or offered for sale in interstate commerce, even if the production occurs in another state." However, the EATS Act hasn’t gotten much traction in Congress, so supporters are attempting to tie it to the re-authorization of the 2018 Farm Bill, which has been booted into next year. But there isn’t much support for this scheme, since more than 200 House members have signed a letter opposing the EATS Act. Another indication that the train has already left the station on this issue is that the USDA is now reporting how many hogs are being raised in compliance with animal confinement legislation, such as Proposition 12. The new classification, appears in the National Weekly Direct Swine Non-Carcass Merit Premium report. The Agricultural Marketing Service reports hogs raised under programs that pay a bonus for meeting protocols for animal welfare such as antibiotic-free, special diet or feed, genetics, meat quality, process verified, how sows are housed, and weight.

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandated that the U.S. Global Change Research Program would deliver a report to Congress and the President about every five years concerning the effects of global climate change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity. The fifth report was released recently, which analyzes current trends in global climate change, in 10 regions of the U.S. In the Southwest region, the report looks at the climate impacts of reduced mountain snow packs, urban expansion, reduced agricultural production, dry soils, increased groundwater use, food security risks, extreme heat, drought, and the increasing costs of ground water extraction. A link to the full report is available here:, and an explanatory graphic is below.

The November Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index reported some concerning trends for the rural economy in 10 mid- America states, including Colorado. For a third straight month, the overall Rural Mainstreet Index sank below growth neutral to a three-year low, with banker economic confidence dropping to its lowest level since initiation of the survey in 2006. For the fifth time in the past six months, farm equipment sales declined, and over 84% of the bankers urged the Federal Reserve to make no changes to interest rates at its next meetings on December 12th & 13th. Also, over 88% of bank CEOs reported that available jobs outnumbered available workers in their local economy, which is not typical for an economy that is losing ground.

Queen Elizabeth II said: “Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom.”

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.