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Farm News & Views for the week of June 17, 2024

Getting a new farm bill through congress is of concern to many farmers and ranchers this summer. The first farm bill was enacted in 1933 as a response to three major events that impacted the U.S starting in 1929. First came the Great Depression that cause and economic collapse in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America, followed by a long term drought in the U.S. in 1930, that forced 2.5 million people to abandon their farms and homes in the Great Plains, which in turn, left tens of thousands of them homeless and hungry as they scrambled to find a more accommodating environment in which to live. The first farm bill had three goals, which included keeping food prices fair for farmers and consumers, ensuring an adequate food supply, and protecting the country’s vital natural resources. As happens with most government programs, this bill, that congress often kicks down the road until it become critical to pass it, includes a whole lot more than the original bill. It now has 12 chapters or titles, including trade, credit, rural development, energy, crop insurance and half a dozen more. Some observers rate the possibility of passing a new farm bill this year at 17%, because, the agriculture committees in the House and Senate both need to pass a bill, the full House and Senate must approve those bills, and if that happens, a committee will probably need to be created to hammer out a compromise between the two bills, then the full House and Senate must approve the compromise and finally, the President would need to sign the bill into law. That’s eight separate steps that must be completed. So far, lawmakers have finished, one.

H5 N1 Bird flu and the impact it’s having on on poultry flocks, dairy cows and three dairy farm workers has gotten the attention of twenty four pharmaceutical companies that are working to develop an avian flu vaccine for cattle, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The disease has infected tens of thousands of domestic chickens, turkeys and ducks as well as 90 dairy herds across 12 states since late March, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While the two dairy farm workers in Michigan and one worker in Texas have had mild symptoms it is still concerning to health care professionals. But while a vaccine could curb the risk of bird flu spreading to new species and lessen potential economic losses for dairy farmers, such a vaccine may take years to develop.

A new Farm Journal poll conducted on behalf of Invest in Our Land across 10 leading agricultural states points out that American farmers and ranchers overwhelmingly believe that conservation funding has an important role to play in building their operations’ resilience to increasingly extreme weather events, while addressing the effects of climate change. The poll, which surveyed over a thousand farmers, ranchers and producers in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, South Dakota, Michigan, Montana, and Wisconsin, also found that, by a double-digit margin, that farmers and ranchers want Congress to protect the $20 billion in conservation funding that was originally authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act and to ensure that those funds will remain dedicated to climate-smart practices in the upcoming Farm Bill.

French music composer Claude Debussy wrote, “There is nothing more musical than a sunset.”

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.