Last week, Farmers for a Sustainable Future Coalition was launched by 21 U.S. farm groups with the intent of promoting environmental and economic sustainability. The coalition intends to serve as a primary resource for policymakers as they consider sustainability and climate policies important to agriculture. Some of the organizations that have founded Farmers for a Sustainable Future include American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Council and 16 other organizations representing all of the major commodities produced in the U.S. Guiding principles of the organization call for policies that support science-based research, voluntary incentive-based conservation programs, investment in infrastructure, and solutions that ensure vibrant rural communities and a healthy planet. The organization points out that although farmers and ranchers have recently received criticism for their production practices from environmental activists, they have in reality already made great strides in moving toward sustainability. For example, no-till and conservation tillage is practiced on half of the country’s approximately 400 million acres of crop land, and farmers have enrolled 140 million acres of land into USDA conservation programs, and farmers are leaders in using geoexchange heating in their shops and livestock buildings, embraced solar energy for electricity and have installed windmills and methane digesters on many livestock operations.
Drought monitor reports continue to indicate that the Four Corners Region is in moderate to severe drought, but the NRCS Snotel reports offer some hope to farmers, ranchers and residents. As of yesterday’s report, both the Dolores-San Miguel and Animas River Basins’ snow water content is 107% of the 30 year average, the same as it was year ago. Southeastern Utah river Basins are at 133% of average, 4% higher than a year ago, and the San Juan River is 10% lower than a year ago at 100 % of average. The entire Upper Colorado River basin, which includes includes tributary rivers in southwest Wyoming, western Colorado, Northwestern New Mexico, eastern Utah, and northeastern Arizona is also 107% of average.
While we’ve heard a lot about international trade recently, we may not think about states in the Four Corners States Region as participants too, but exports from the Region amounted to several billion dollars worth of ag products in 2018. Colorado sent almost $1.9 billion to export markets, followed by Arizona with about $1.5 billion, New Mexico with over $750 million and Utah rounded out Four Corners exports with $430 million.