Radio Script 5-28-19

Cloudy weather has plagued farmers this year in the Midwest and beyond.

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the May 28th edition of Farm News and Views.

Weather in much of the Corn Belt and beyond, is top of the news this morning. Farmers from Michigan to Ohio and west into Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska are reporting that their fields are to wet to plant, and rain continues to fall. Rivers in Illinois and Iowa are flooding adjacent farm land, and the Mississippi Levee Board is reporting that more than a half million acres of land in the Mississippi Delta has been covered by backwater floods. Flooding is also occurring along the Missouri river and its tributaries. Many farmers are predicting that much of the flooded land in the Midwest won’t be farmed this year.

Farmers who plant crop into muddy fields face the risk of low crop yields caused by poor seed germination, competition from weeds, and the potential problems with plants that don’t develop deep roots and may face hot dry conditions later in the growing season. Farmers are also concerned about the long range effects of soil compaction that occurs when heavy farm equipment is driven over wet soils. The compaction limits the ability of future crops to develop deep roots because compacted soil profiles may stunt crop growth for years to come.

Although these natural disasters will reduce the grain stock piles that have dogged farmers for the past couple of years, the lower production will only help farmers who don’t have flooded fields. Thousands of farmers who have no crops to sell because they couldn’t plant their fields won’t benefit from higher crop prices.

At this point, farmers who have been unable to plant fields are are trying to decide whether to use the prevented planting feature of crop insurance policies that they’ve purchased. This feature provides a 50 to 60 percent payment if they can’t plant their fields. However, farmers face a some uncertainty about whether to chose prevent plant because the proposed trade aid package may not be available to farmers who don’t plant a crop this year.

According to statistics from states that have licensed farmers to grow industrial hemp, in 2018, Colorado and Montana were virtually tied for the highest number of acres of hemp with about 22,000 acres in each state. Oregon with over 7800 acres, and Kentucky with 6,700 acres round out the top four hemp producers in the nation.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture reports that its industrial hemp program is receiving 40 license applications per day, which is double the number they received last year. The department is posting updates on its website concerning regulations and related resources.

Texas Republican Chip Roy temporarily blocked the $19 billion dollar disaster aid bill in the House on Friday. If passed, the Bill will provide help for farmers in southern states who suffered loses from last fall’s hurricanes, for Midwestern farmers and their communities that were hit by flooding earlier this spring, and will provide relief for fire-ravaged rural California. The Senate voted to support the measure Thursday afternoon, but Roy objected to speeding the measure through the nearly-empty House chamber on Friday. He also complained that the bill doesn’t contain any of President Trump’s request for dealing with the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. The House will return to the bill possibly as early as next week.

Since I don’t want to leave today’s report on a negative note, remember that Confucius said, the man who moves mountains begins by carrying away small stones.

Until next week, I’m Bob Bragg

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