Good morning! Welcome to the February 19th edition of Farm News and Views. This is Bob Bragg.
A couple of ag headlines bring home how weather often has a negative impact on farmers and ranchers. For example, an estimated 300,000 head of cattle were drowned due to flooding in northern Queensland, Australia, last week. The heavy rains have followed a drought that has plagued farmers and stockman in that state for the past seven years.
At the same time, in eastern Washington, over 1800 dairy cows died when an unexpected blizzard struck the area around Sunnyside in the southern Yakama Valley.
While our winter weather here in the Four Corners Region has given us snow to shovel, icy roads, frigid temperatures and mud, it’s also presented the Region with a much improved mountain snow pack, precipitation in the valleys, when compared to last year. Most of the NRCS Snotel sites in the Region are reporting above average snow water content, although they are showing five to seven inches less than for the same period in 2017. So let it snow, let it snow and remember, we’re 30 days away from the spring Equinox.
Here’s a follow up on last weeks story about the auction sale of a 30 acre parcel of land in Cole County Illinois, that was once owned by Abraham Lincoln. The bid was $300,000, which was paid by an investor. No information was available concerning whether the buyer was renting it out for crop production, or would attempt to profit from its history.
The Green New Deal, supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels and a 100 percent adoption of “clean” energy by 2030, is starting to receive push back from some agricultural commentators. Their concern comes from language that calls for replacing non-essential individual means of transportation with high-quality and modern mass transit, and eliminating the use of fossil-based fertilizers and pesticides. They question how mass transit will work in rural areas, and what the impact of elimination of fertilizers and pesticides may have on crop and livestock production.
In major agricultural publications, articles concerning small scale farming are not part of their usual editorial content. But a recent Successful Farming piece, Are You Truly Ready to Buy a Farm? by Lauren Manning, is an interesting outlier. Manning, who is and attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas, gained experience working with established small farm operators. By 2017, she decided to look for her own small farm, and this article offers some helpful recommendations for beginning farmers to consider. First, set realistic expectations about the type of operation you want to develop, considering the crops and livestock you’ll raise, how much acreage is necessary, and whether financing is available. When evaluating potential farms, consider whether it has necessary infrastructure like a house, barns, corrals, fencing and irrigation, and how far is it from town. If it is just farm land, what’s the cost of building infrastructure and connecting utilities if they’re available. Other considerations include how much land can you manage if you have another job, and do you have the skills, knowledge and abilities to run a profitable farm business.
A link to this article and a companion article is at farmnewsandviews.net.
(You will find a link to the farm news and views blog at KSJD.org.)
This Mark Twain Quote seems appropriate for someone who is contemplating buying a farm. He said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
Until Next week, I’m Bob Bragg.