Radio Script 8-27-19

Southern Utah landscape. NRCS photo

About three months ago, farmers and ranchers in the Four Corners region were tallying the benefits and drawback of a wet winter and spring. Wet fields made it tough to plant spring grains and dry beans, and the heavy snow pack kept cattle and sheep off mountain ranges for a few weeks. But by mid-June, the Region was drought free according to the U.S. Drought monitor, with the exception of a small part of San Juan County New Mexico. Southwest Colorado and Southeast Utah were also free of abnormally dry conditions. Fast forward to the end of August, and drought is making a comeback. The whole region is registering abnormally dry on the Drought Monitor Map and Moderate drought has made a comeback along much of far western New Mexico. Even farmers with irrigation water are commenting that they could use some help through a good rainstorm. The long-range National Weather Service forecast for the next three weeks is showing higher than normal temperatures and normal precipitation for this time of year.

Trade talks have been hot news over the past few days due to deals that have been discussed at the G-7 Summit in France. The announcement that The U.S. Japan have agreed “in principle” on a trade deal to eliminate tariffs on U. S. produced beef, pork and other products, while maintaining tariffs on the automobiles Japan ships to the U.S. Beef producers are hoping that they will send more beef to Japan soon, a market that bought $2 billion of U.S. beef last year, even though it was assessed a 38.5% tariff . Both live cattle, cattle headed from feedlot to slaughter and feeder cattle and pork all were up on the futures market yesterday.

A recent court battle in Idaho points out one of the risks that hemp growers may face. In January, a truck carrying hemp from Oregon to Colorado for processing was inspected at a weigh station in Idaho. Because the cargo looked like marijuana, the driver was arrested and the load, worth $1.3 million was confiscated, because hemp is illegal in Idaho. The U.S. Court of Appeals is slated to hear argument about the case later this week. However, the USDA released a legal opinion in May that will forbid states from preventing transportation of hemp across state lines, but the that won’t take effect until the USDA publishes its guidelines for the crop sometime this fall.

Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union is concerned that trade mitigation payments that the Trump Administration is sending to farmers could undermine support for the next Farm Bill. He points out that the $16 billion in aid that has been pledged to farmers this year is more than the funding that has been allocated for all farm support programs in the current Farm Bill for 2019. As the balance of rural political power continues to weaken, Johnson worries that urban legislatures will see that while their constituents were hurt by the trade spats, they got nothing, while farmers received trade mitigation payments, and it was made easier for millionaires to qualify.

Today’s thought comes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He wrote, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

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