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Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2012

Risky business

No matter how good a farmer is, he or she can’t control Mother Nature.

July 26, 2012

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The current heat and drought in America’s heartland is taxing to everyone, but no one feels the effects of this kind of weather more than farmers.

As the number of farmers has declined in the United States, fewer people understand the financial risks farmers take every year and the devastating impact weather like we’re having this year can have on a farming operation. In tight economic times, it becomes easier to criticize federal farm policies such as crop insurance, without really understanding that many of those programs are what ensures that Americans have a reliable, affordable supply of food.

Recent news report offer a reminder of the impact of one variable over which farmers have no control: the weather. The Midwest corn crop is close to a total loss and soybeans are shriveling in the sun. Cattlemen are being forced to sell their cattle sooner than they want because there isn’t enough grass in the pastures to sustain them. In many cases, those forced sales are more than a one-year setback.

An Associated Press story in Wednesday’s Journal-World explained how it will take years for pastures to recover from the drought and for farmers to rebuild cow-calf herds. The story focused on one Kansas rancher who had carefully bred cattle for years to build a strong herd, much of which he now must sell off. He can rebuild his herd by buying cattle, but it will take far longer to replace the genetic breeding that went into his current herd.

Crop prices are high, but most farmers will have no fall crops to sell. Federal crop insurance payments will be enough to repay their production loans and allow them to plant again next year but probably not enough to cover many other expenses such as fuel and machinery costs.

There almost certainly are ways to improve crop insurance programs and make them less costly for taxpayers, but revisions to those programs need to recognize the ways farming differs from many other businesses. Farmers can be required to pay a higher percentage of their crop insurance premiums, but that cost must be passed on in the price of food or farmers will be driven out of business because they can’t make a profit. Farmers can respond somewhat to market demands, but no amount of better business management can prevent the kind of devastation that Mother Nature is visiting on farmers this year.

An important part — perhaps the most important part — of U.S. farm policy is to help American farmers stay in business so they can provide the food and fiber on which the nation depends. A year like this offers a strong reminder of the risks of farming, as well as the critical role farmers play.

Comments

Dignitas 1 year, 8 months ago

There is no mother in nature.. its earth

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Les Blevins 1 year, 8 months ago

Under the renewable fuel mandate signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006, the government envisioned reducing the country's oil import bill while having vehicles run on clean-burning fuels made from prairie grass or wood chips. It was originally thought that ethanol made from corn would eventually give way to cellulosic ethanol fuel and the higher renewable fuels standards (RFS) could be met. But because of high costs, technical difficulties which could be overcome with new concept technology that I wish to partner with Lawrence to develop, and the end of federal subsidies, the new ethanol industry has failed to take off, Lawrence has been left out, and the EPA has been forced to drastically reduce the cellulosic requirement. A loss for farmers in Kansas and across the nation. The EPA is now saying that in 2012, 8.7 million gallons of the advanced biofuel must be blended into gasoline, which is down from the original proposal for 2012 of 500 million gallons. Brooke Coleman, executive director for the Advanced Ethanol Council, said the sector has been hard hit by the recession but the oil industry was also targeting the sector just as the first commercial plants were coming on line. The reason the oil companies and their Republican backers are going after this particular provision ... is because they want to kill the RFS itself and spin the RFS as a Democratic failure. And the reason the Journal World doesn't want their readers to know about a local proposal by a local man to solve the cellulosic ethanol supply problems is also political in nature. And the reason city leaders shun initiatives to profit the city of Lawrence is also political in nature.

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Les Blevins 1 year, 8 months ago

Why do Lawrence residents need to be informed about the proposal I've placed before the city? Here is why:

Food prices are likely to rise as much as 3.5 percent this year and as much as 4 percent in 2013, the Agriculture Department forecast on Wednesday, with higher crop prices driving up meat and dairy products. By comparison, the overall U.S. inflation rate is estimated at 2 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2013. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican, urged House action on the farm bill, citing President Truman's successful re-election campaign against a do-nothing Congress in 1948. "When times are tough for farmers, they tend to be more active politically," Grassley said. U.S. farmers are traditionally fiscal and social conservatives. The presidential election is unlikely to hinge on the farm bill this year but political handicappers say Democrats may gain 10 seats nationwide, cutting the Republican advantage to 30 seats from the current 50. Rural districts play a leading role when control of the House changes parties.

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Les Blevins 1 year, 8 months ago

Let me say that again;

This editorial is a total cop-out and doesn’t come near addressing the problem. If the global warming and climate change trends are allowed to continue, and are not stopped during the remainder of this century, America’s heartland will become the American Sahara.

Climate change must be slowed and then stopped or the farmers of America's heartland will go the way of the Dodo bird trying to deal with droughts and floods. No matter how good farmers are they cannot cope with the climate issue alone and humanity needs to collaborate and cooperate in changing the way we go about providing energy or the multi-billion dollar disasters climate change is producing will double and drive this nation into a steep decline because our economy cannot continue paying disaster payments and bailing farmers out time and time again. The Journal World and the City of Lawrence are standing squarely in the way of dealing with the climate issue by refusing to consider how we can collaboratively empower humanity to take action to repower our economy with new concept alternative repowering technology designed to power our economy not on carbon emissions into the atmosphere but by extraction of carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in our farm soils in order to make them more drought resistant and more productive. Ask Lawrence's mayor and city commissioners and city manager what it is I’ve been trying to get them to consider doing to turn things around before it is too late.

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Les Blevins 1 year, 8 months ago

This editorial is a total cop out and doesn't come near addressing the problem. If global warming and climate change trend are allowed to continue and are not stopped during the remainder of this century America's heartland will become the American Sahara. Climate change must be slowed and then stopped or the farmers of America's heartland will go the way of the Dodo bird trying to deal with droughts and floods. No matter how good farmers are they cannot cope with the climate issue alone and humanity needs to collaborate and cooperate in changing the way we go about providing energy or the multi-billion dollar disasters climate change is producing will double and drive this nation into a steep decline because our economy cannot continue paying disaster payments and bailing farmers out time and time again. The Journal World and the City of Lawrence are standing squarely in the way of dealing with the climate issue by refusing to consider how we can collaboratively empower humanity to take action to repower our economy with new concept alternative repowering technology designed to power our economy not on carbon emissions into the atmosphere but by extraction of carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in our farm soils in order to make them more drought resistant and more productive. Ask Lawrence's mayor and city commissioners and city manager what it is I’ve been trying to get them to consider doing to turn things around before it is too late.

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