Archive for March, 2010

‘Next Year’ Is Here. It’s Time To Roll

March 19, 2010

It’s mid-March, and we are finally getting some warm pretty days after months of rain and clouds. You can tell it’s almost time to plant when you can actually smell the damp earth, whether it’s out in your field, in a backyard garden or even in a flower bed.

It smells of hope and a fresh beginning. After an awful weather-related harvest last fall, many folks were heard to say, “Just wait till next year.” Well, next year is here, and it’s time to roll. Crank up the planters, and let’s see if Mother Nature will be a little more cooperative this year.

As for myself, I’ll be planting flowers pretty soon. It’s a spring ritual for me that I used to share with my elderly neighbor. He used to work in the ag industry for many years. Although his body was feeble, his mind was sharp. He always set our “planting date,” then sat in his chair and gave me advice on just how to mix the right amount of dirt and potting soil, how much fertilizer to add and how far apart to space the plants.

I suppose you could say he was my “consultant!” But he obviously knew what he was doing because the flowers and plants flourished all summer long.

I’m sorry to say that he won’t be with me this year to guide me through the spring ritual, but I do remember everything he told me to do in previous years and will follow his legacy to the letter. He would expect no less.
I imagine multi-generational farmers feel much this same way. Each generation passes down knowledge based on experience to the next generation and so it goes. Listen to the wisdom of those who have “been there, done that,” but don’t be afraid to try some new things, too. There’s a lot of new technology to work with out there to complement the tried and true.

It’s spring. So get out there, plant and nurture your crops and hopefully enjoy a bountiful harvest this fall. After I plant my flowers and prune my plants, I look forward to heading out to the rice field. See you there…

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Disaster $$$ Approved by Senate

March 11, 2010

Good news for farmers who suffered crop losses from weather-related disasters came March 10 when the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AR) agriculture disaster aid package. Following are the details that appeared in a press release from the Senator’s office. Although the press release is tailored to Lincoln’s Arkansas constituents, remember that “the legislation would provide an estimated $1.1 billion in supplemental payments to producers [not just in Arkansas] who suffered crop losses in counties declared ‘primary’ disaster areas by USDA.”

Lincoln Agriculture Disaster Aid Passed by Senate

Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry today said Arkansas farmers affected by weather-related disasters are one step closer to receiving relief. The U.S. Senate today approved Lincoln’s $1.5 billion disaster package as part of the Tax Extenders Act of 2009.
“Our farmers provide the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world. We cannot afford to see them forced out of business because of weather conditions out of their control. This will provide the relief producers need to stay in business, saving jobs right here in Arkansas,” Lincoln said.
“The disaster assistance bill will provide significant help to those Arkansas producers who suffered devastating weather and disastrous crop harvests in 2009. Direct crop losses for cotton, cottonseed, corn, rice, soybeans, sorghum and grass hay in Arkansas were estimated by UA Division of Agriculture economists to have been $400 million. This direct loss reverberated through the Arkansas economy with a reduction of employment of 3,700 and lost wages of $102 million. Value-added activities, such as reductions in crop processing and reduced household spending, were reduced by an additional $202 million,” said Dr. Eric Wailes, L.C. Carter Endowed Chair Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
In Arkansas, agriculture provides more than 270,000 jobs and contributes more than $9 billion each year to the state’s economy.
“Farmers need certainty to make planning decisions for the planting season. While previous efforts to pass disaster assistance have taken nearly 3 years, this package is based on bipartisan legislation I introduced just over 3 months ago. As the legislative process continues, I will work closely with my colleagues in Congress to ensure producers will receive this relief in a timely manner,” Lincoln said.
The legislation would provide an estimated $1.1 billion in supplemental payments to producers who suffered crop losses in counties declared “primary” disaster areas by USDA.
Also included is $300 million to assist specialty crop producers, $75 million in emergency loans to poultry producers, $50 million in assistance for livestock producers, $25 million in aquaculture assistance and $42 million to aid first handlers of cottonseed.