Radio Script 9-17-19

California poppies. NRCS photo by Gary Kramer

Organic commodity farmers will harvest a record number of acres across the U. S. this year, according to the Annual Acreage Report, released by Mercaris, the nation’s largest market data and trading organization for organic and non-GMO markets. U. S. Farmers will harvest over three million acres of land certified for organic field crop production, which is a 7% increase over 2018. This increase is driven in large part by a surge in new certified organic field crop operations across the U. S. The West and High Plains regions saw the largest jump in harvested organic field crop acres this year, even though organic corn and soybean farmers have faced the same challenges to production that conventional farmers have had. Overall total organic acres of pasture, rangeland, and organic crop areas has grown to 8.3 million acres, with over 8,000 U. S. farm operations certified as compliant with the USDA National Organic Program standards in 2019.

Late last week, almost a foot of rain fell in southeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minneapolis and northern Iowa in just two days. Although flooded rivers in Southeastern South Dakota are expected to recede this week, farm fields have been inundated, further damaging crops that were planted late due to wet conditions this spring.

According to the Politico Agriculture Morning Report, House Democrats are working on a short-term spending bill that could temporarily freeze the money available for trade aid payments. White House budget officials have asked lawmakers to include a provision in the stopgap spending bill that would keep the Commodity Credit Corporation from exceeding its $30 billion borrowing limit over the next few months, due to the impact of paying tariff relief payments. So far, the provision isn’t in the House draft bill, but it could be added before the bill is voted on next week.

Although polls show that President Trump’s support in farm country has slipped, according to a recent Reuters new report, it’s still substantial. Instead of some farmers directing their anger at the president for low commodity prices and increased financial strain due to the continuing trade war, they’re focusing on the USDA and other Washington institutions that disgruntled farmers believe are preventing the President from achieving his agenda. These farmers point to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories alleging that USDA staff are reporting that crops are in better condition than some farmers think they are, which is the reason that commodity market prices for corn and soybeans have remained low for most of the summer. Last month, a threat was made against USDA staff members who were participating in a Pro Farmer Crop tour that was looking at crop conditions in seven states in the Midwest. However, the Pro Farmer tour came to a similar conclusion about expected yields as the USDA had reported earlier in August.

Some commercial citrus growers in Ventura County, California, used dogs from Florida, that are trained to detect the presence of Citrus greening disease, to sniff out this bacteria in over 200 trees in their groves. The dogs, owned by a private company, are trained to identify this disease that is believed to be responsible for reducing Florida’s citrus production and for infecting residential trees in southern California. Who said that we need high tech in ag?

Today’s thought is attributed to Socrates. “Nobody is qualified to become a statesman who is entirely ignorant of the problem of wheat.”

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