Report 4-6-21

After the history-making blizzard on Colorado’s Front Range and some good wet snow fall in the Four Corners Region, some folks think that the drought in Colorado is over. But the Natural Resources Conservation Service points out that all but two rivers in the state are below 100% of average snow pack. The Arkansas river basin is at 106% of average, and the and the Rio Grande is at 101%, but the snow pack goes down from there in all of the other river basins in the state. The Dolores river has the lowest snow pack, which is below 80% of average. For the rest of the state, the snow pack doesn’t look too bad, until scientists factor in the dryness of the soils when the winter season started. The Meager anticipated snowmelt runoff is expected to mean another challenging year for maintaining even below-optimal levels of flows in the Colorado River downstream of the Palisade area for the benefit of endangered fish. The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center expects that the April-July water supplies will range from 60-85% of normal in various parts of the basin. In southwest Colorado, Irrigation company managers are letting farmers know that irrigation water supplies will likely be cut in half or more unless by some miracle a lot of rain storms pass out way.

Feral pigs are an expensive problem, causing about $2.5 billion in damages annually in 35 states in the U.S. While Colorado is reportedly free of destructive beasts, they are pretty close. In the Four corners region, the free roaming hogs have been sited in Navajo County, Arizona and San Juan County Utah. The pigs plow through crops, tear up roads and infrastructure, spread disease, and force out native species whose habitat is in fragile marshes, riversides, grasslands, and forests. Researchers consider these hogs gone wild the most destructive invasive species on the planet.

Agricultural economists cite higher commodity prices, unprecedented federal aid and low interest rates as the cause of soaring cropland rent and land prices in the Midwest this spring as farmers scramble to increase their owned and rented land bases. The problem is that many younger farmers don’t have the ability to compete with established farmers because they don’t have the resources to purchase available land that’s now selling for a premium. USDA statistics indicate that Just 13 percent of farms control 75 percent of farmed croplands, and the high land prices accelerate consolidation by preventing smaller farmers from expanding.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has stated that he wants to create a large scale carbon credit bank, that will help mitigate climate change and also be beneficial to farmers. But the devil will certainly be in the details, because the plan apparently includes paying farmers to plant crops sequester carbon in the soil, but some environmentalists, doubt it would make a big enough dent in climate change, and Farmers and ranchers worry that big agribusinesses and financial institutions will reap most of the monetary benefits from the carbon market. It’s reported that the USDA plans, to take some action by the end of 2021, but Vilsack still has to get Republican lawmakers on board to fund the efforts.

Greek storyteller Aesop wrote, “Please all and you please none.”

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