Drought talk fades from fields

Farm Forum

You just never know, do you? Last summer we braced for drought. The talk this spring has been about how to handle planting and caring for livestock in a drought situation. As the raindrops continue to fall, our mindset has had to switch to deal with planting while keeping an eye on the sky. Last week’s drought monitor showed significant improvement in the areas impacted by drought. While some rains have been a little too much at one time, it’s hard to say no to rain. Agriculture is greening up in our corner of the world.

The Oklahoma tornados remind us how fast lives can change. Our hearts go out to the people dealing with those huge losses brought on by Mother Nature’s fury.

While we’re in our fields and our pastures, we’re also aware that discussions in Washington, D.C., can have an important impact on our future.

While there are different views as to what is important, we hope that compromise will provide some type of Farm Bill this summer.

As farmers and ranchers our job is to plant and care for our crops and to do what is necessary to take care of the livestock that ultimately provides the food for consumers in our country. We are held accountable in our operations for the choices we make. If we don’t make prudent decisions, we are out of business.

The truth is that available food is often wasted in this country. Think big. Think Sear’s Tower big and then multiply by 44. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, that is approximately the volume of food that is lost from the U.S. food supply annually at retail food stores, restaurants, and homes combined.

Now think of all the labor, land, water, fertilizer, and other inputs that went into growing that food. It would take far more than a mega-city of skyscrapers to contain it all, according to the USDA blog. Production of wasted food pulls all these resources away from uses that may be more beneficial to society – and it generates impacts on the environment that may endanger the long-run health of the planet. The environmental footprint of food waste starts at agricultural production and extends through to food processing, transportation, retail, preparation and/or disposal, depending on where along the way the food is discarded.

USDA in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on June 4, World Environment Day, will launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, inviting producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies to join us in our efforts to:

·Reduce food loss and waste

·Recover wholesome food for human consumption

·Recycle discarded food to other uses including animal feed, composting, and energy generation

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Gardening joy

I was happy to get my garden planted this last week. With the rain, the soil felt great while I was digging in the rows. Scooby, our black Lab with huge paws, has managed to heed my warnings to stay out of my marked territory – for now. I experimented by placing wooden planks down and then planting the seeds along with edge. I’m hoping this will help remind Scooby to stay out of that area as well as smother the weeds underneath. I’ll see how that works. There’s always the chance that Scooby may take off across the garden to chase a rabbit and forget that he’s not supposed to go there.