Agriculture will be prominent on Capital hill this week. Secretary of Agriculture designate Tom Vilsack is expected to be confirmed by the Senate today, which may speed up distribution of billions of dollars in Covid relief to farmers, but a rebound in some agricultural commodity prices may encourage legislators to think that all is well in farm country and not be in a hurry to send any more cash to ag. Producers. The House Agriculture Committee is also expected to begin work on solving issues concerning climate change with a virtual hearing on Thursday to discuss how to begin working toward President Biden’s ambitious goal of helping the U.S farm sector to reach net-zero carbon emissions in the near future. One of the most discussed plans include developing a carbon bank that would pay farmers, foresters and ranchers to store carbon in the soil through regenerative agriculture and other climate-friendly practices. The plan would turn large areas of the U.S. into huge carbon sinks that could offset some of the 7,000 megatons of greenhouse gases the US emits each year.
While the carbon bank plan sounds a lot like political err hyperbole, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicates that almost 100 million acres of farmland in the Midwest corn belt has completely lost its carbon-rich topsoil to soil erosion. That’s significant, because if soils lack carbon, then they also lack organic matter, which is necessary for storing water and nutrients. Researchers estimate that erosion of this topsoil has reduced corn and soybean yields by about 6%, leading to nearly $3 billion in annual economic losses for farmers across the Midwest. A carbon bank would encourage farmers to to increase organic matter in their soils to capture carbon, and to also help them increase the profitability of the crops they grow.
When farmers get together, there’s often discussions about which animal is the dumbest. Cowboys pick on the shepherds, and shepherds respond by claiming that the only animal dumber than a cow is a cowboy. But if someone in the group raises chicken’s they haven’t got a chance. The rest of them gang up on the chicken rancher by contending that their lowly birds are the dumbest critter in creation. But Melissa Caughey, a Massachusetts chicken owner learned how to communicate with her flock, after she observed that her chickens had similar vocal responses for various activities in the chicken house. When she began to repeat what she heard from them, she noticed that they were cocking their heads side-to-side like a dog, and responding to her. So she wrote the book, How to Speak Chicken, which describes how any chicken owner can talk tho their birds.
It’s easy for humans to think that we’re the smartest creature on the planet, and the rest are just dumb animals, but if we observe animals long enough, we should realize that all animals have their own brand of intelligence.
English humorist, and authorwho penned the stories about Winne the Poo and Christopher Robin wrote, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”