Report 6-1-21

Although there are a couple of farmer’s markets already offering locally grown food in the Four Corners area, after Memorial Day, five markets shift into high gear. Those include the Monticello, Utah and Dolores Colorado markets on Wednesday afternoons, the Mancos market on Thursday afternoons and the Cortez and Durango Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings. Shoppers at these markets help to support local food producers who offer a wide array of products, some of which are unique to our region.

Memorial Day also kicks off the grilling season, which make livestock producers happy. A survey commissioned by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council and The North American Meat Institute, showed that 73 percent of Americans believe that a cookout isn’t complete without hot dogs. Although there are many ways to cook a hot dog, the survey showed that most Americans prefer their hot dogs straight off the grill, and 75 percent of the respondents said that grilling is their favorite way to cook a hot dog.

Which leads into some precautionary tips concerning fire prevention warnings for those who enjoy the culinary art of cooking over a grill. The National Fire Protection Association points out that fire departments were uninvited but welcome guests at an annual average of 8,900 homes where there were fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues between 2014 and 2018. Although those visits didn’t only include the grills, but also 3,900 structure fires and 4,900 outside or unclassified fires, and about 19,000 people per year went to emergency rooms due to injuries sustained from grills. So enjoy alfresco cooking, but be careful.

While we haven’t seen any improvement in drought conditions in the Four Corners, drought has become a mainstay in California, with last Thursday’s Drought Monitor map showing that exceptional drought is growing in Kern County, one of the top ranked counties in the nation for agricultural  production. Both the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project have announced that they intend to deliver only 5% of requested supplies to farmers this year.

The Agricultural Workers Rights Bill, under consideration in the Colorado state Senate has drawn opposition from the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Association along with a number of other agricultural industry groups. The bill seeks to improve health protections for workers with H2A visas, mandate meal breaks, ensure housing without interference, allow workers to organize and be protected from retaliation when reporting violations. But Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Association president Bruce Talbot contends that there may be unintended consequences if the bill is passed, since one of the provisions calls for growers to pay agriculture workers overtime for working longer than 12 hours per day or for weeks that are longer than 40 hours. He points out that with Colorado’s short growing season and fickle weather, employees sometimes have to work more than 40 hours per week to get a crop harvested, and since the extra cost of paying workers overtime can’t be passed along to customers, the option for some smaller farmers would be to downsize their operations and not relay on employing seasonal workers, which would leave many of these workers without jobs.

Elbert Einstein wrote, “Great Spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

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