Radio Script 10-8-19

NRCS photo by Lance Cheung.

Hemp production for commercial sale, research or pilot programs is legal in all but three states, Idaho, South Dakota and Mississippi. While Colorado is one of the leading producers of commercial hemp, growers face uncertainty because so far, there is no consistency in regulations or standards concerning growing and processing the crop. For example, measuring the THC level in growing plants is a delicate, high-stakes task, and growers hope that the USDA will set a national testing standard. THC amounts in a crop vary due to environmental factors, including rainfall, temperature and even the growth stage when plants are tested. If a hemp crop exceeds .03 of a percent THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, the crop must be destroyed. The USDA is under pressure to rework this patchwork of state regulations, and the agency has announced that it plans to publish standards ahead of the 2020 growing season.

When Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin last week, he stirred up controversy when he told attendees that there is no guarantees that small farms can survive. In a statement following his talk, he stated that “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I don’t think in America, we for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” Wisconsin dairymen are especially sensitive about those kinds of statements because the state has lost over 1,600 dairy farms since 2017.

From time to time, people ask, “Why do farmers plant crops when prices are so low? The simple answer is because they’re eternal optimists. “Wait till next year” is often their motto. But an Agricultural Policy Analysis Center article, “U.S. total planted acreage varies little despite wide swings in commodity prices,“ by Dr. Hardwood Schaffer and Dr. Daryll Ray, provides some interesting insight into this question. They looked at acreage data from 1998 to 2018 for eight major crops, corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, sorghum, rice, oats and barley. In 1998, these eight crops accounted for 255.5 million acres, and by 2018, there were 254.3 million acres allocated to these crops. However, over the years, corn, soybeans and cotton gained acres, while the rest of the crops lost some ground. There are several reasons for this small change in total acres. First, Farmers must pay for the high fixed costs for land and equipment, so they plant even though prices are not favorable. Any income that they get above variable costs like seed, fuel, and fertilizer helps to pay for the fixed costs. They hang onto rented land, because if they let it go, they won’t have it when prices are more favorable. Farmer who to takeover any released rented ground usually want it so that he or she can spread their fixed costs over more acres. https://www.agpolicy.org/weekpdf/2019/996.pdf

It’s October, and I’ll bet that you didn’t know that some people are celebrating World Egg Day on the 11th. So it’s a great day to enjoy Colorado eggs. There are 4 and a half million laying hens in Colorado producing over a billion eggs every year, which are one of the top ten agricultural commodities in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. They even have a recipe for smoked deviled eggs at www.coloradoproud.com.

Remember what author Helen Keller said. “Life is either a great adventure or nothing at all.”


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