This is National Farmers Market Week. Last Sunday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited the Pearl Street Farmers Market in Denver, to encourage consumers to recognize the importance of the role that farmers markets play in connecting farmers to consumers. To mark the week, the Colorado Farmers Market Association has organized a statewide photo contest to promote shopping at farmers markets around the state. The winner will receive $30 to spend at their local market. Details are on on Facebook or at CoFarmersMarkets.org.
The Rockefeller Foundation recently published the report, True Cost of Food: Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System, which points out that as a country, we spend a total of $1.1 trillion a year on food. However, when the rising health care costs due to poor diets and obesity, climate change, and biodiversity loss are factored in, the bill grows. Accounting for these factors, the true cost of food is at least $3.2 trillion a year, more than three times the current expenditure on food. A link to this report is at True Cost of Food: Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System – The Rockefeller Foundation
Along this line, Alan Gubert Farm and Food File column, “The actual cost of the Industrial mind”, he pointed out that in 1961, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had 96,000 employees that served 13 million farmers. But by 2010, the USDA had 113,000 employees and the U.S. only had 2 million farmers. So, in those five decades, USDA’s bureaucracy grew by 18% while the number of farmers it served collapsed by 85%, and during that span of time, U.S. direct to farmers program payments, in 2009 dollars, totaled $712.5 billion. However, in the period from 1961 to 2021, in 2009 dollars, U.S. direct farm program payments totaled $909 billion.
Last week, Bayer officials announced that the company is removing glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicides, from the U.S. residential lawn and garden marketplace, effective as early as January 2023. The company will replace glyphosate in the lawn and garden marketplace with what they described as active ingredients that are already known and well-established, but will be sold under the Roundup brand. The company currently has about 30,000 unresolved cancer claims that it is working to address through a five-point plan developed earlier this year. The company also assured agricultural producers that they would still continue to have access to glyphosate from Bayer for weed control.
Over the past two weeks, the U.S. Drought Monitor Map has shown some improvement in drought conditions in the Four Corners Region, but rainfall amounts have varied dramatically throughout southwestern Colorado. For example, a weather watcher who lives about 12 miles north of Cortez recorded 5.47 inches of rainfall in July, while other reports vary from 2 to 2.5 inches of rainfall. The recent rain events have turned many brown fields into green swards, but have also left eroded gullies in many fields, and caused flooding in some areas. While it may seem like the drought has broken, water managers caution that it will take a lot more rain and snowfall to make up for two years or more of dry conditions in the West.
An old Scottish proverb comes to mind, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”