Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the August 6th edition of Farm News and Views.
Devaluation of the Chinese yuan sent financial markets lower yesterday, and farm commodity markets were also rattled. Futures market prices for grains and livestock continue to be churned by trade war uncertainty.
Agriculture is getting more attention this year than it has for a long time. The Trump administration is attempting to keep his support with farmers and ranchers by providing trade mitigation payments and heaping praise on quote “our patriotic farmers”, while at the same time, some Democrats who are campaigning to become their party’s presidential candidate are talking about programs that will encourage agricultural producers to help solve environmental problems and slow climate change by sequestrating carbon through soil management and sustainable farming practices.
Politico Morning Agriculture recently reported that USDA plant physiologist Lewis Ziska left his job at the Agricultural Research Service last Friday, citing USDA’s effort year to block dissemination of his study showing how rice loses nutrients due to rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. His research raised potentially serious concerns for the 600 million people globally who depend on rice for most of their calories. Ziska is among several government officials who’ve recently resigned over accusations that the Trump administration is censoring climate science at the USDA.
Area agricultural producers and individuals interested in farming practices have opportunities to attend a couple of meetings in southwest Colorado. The first is a Field day at the Colorado State University Southwestern Research Center, Wednesday, August 14th from 9 am until 1 pm, with lunch provided. Call the Center at 970-562-4255 to RSVP for lunch or additional information. For anyone who is interested in industrial hemp production, the Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan will meet on Friday August 16th at the Old Fort at Hesperus. They‘ll hold a meeting from 9 am until noon, and a repeat meeting from 1 until 4 pm for those who can’t attend the morning meeting. Call 303-869-9103 for information.
It’s easy now days to get negative about farming and ranching, with trade wars hammering commodity prices, too much or too little moisture, uncertainty about government programs, tightening financial policies for agricultural loans, and the list could go on. But I crossed paths recently with a farmer who had participated in a farm management class a couple of decades ago that was enthusiastic about his farm. He’s been inspired by the regenerative agriculture movement that’s building around the world. After he read North Dakota farmer and rancher Gabe Brown’s book, Dirt to Soil, he began to incorporate practices advocated in the book, and he’s seen a remarkable difference in his soil and crop yields. Brown advocates using no-till crop production to grow high diversity cover crops and cash crops using no synthetic fertilizers and, fungicides and pesticides are not applied. Brown also incorporates livestock onto the crop land. Through these practices, Brown has developed very high nutrient and organic matter levels in the soil, and the water intake rates are 15 times higher than the intake rate of similar soil types near his ranch in south central North Dakota. The soil intake rate is especially important there, because while the area only averages about 18 inches of precipitation annually, commonly drought is interspersed with occasional heavy rainfall. The high intake rates absorb the water quickly, and the high organic matter stores it for the dry periods.
Todays thought comes from playwright George Barnard Shaw who said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Until next week. I’m Bob Bragg