On Tuesday, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack toured agricultural damage with Governor Perdue and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Vilsack had this regarding what he’d seen in the northeastern part of the state:
"Obviously, Governor Perdue has asked me to take a look specifically at the agricultural damage. The commissioner and I have discussed in great detail the nature of that damage. It's obvious that tobacco, cotton, corn, and to a certain extent, soybean producers are impacted by this storm in a very significant way."
Vilsack is encouraging all affected producers to visit their county FSA office or go to usda.gov for information on programs available to them.
La Nina Condition May Continue
Scientists and climatologists say the drought that has plagued Texas and the southwest United States may extend for another year. That’s because there is a 50/50 chance the La Nina conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean will return this fall. Texas state climatologist and Texas A&M University professor John Nielson-Gammon says - I’ve started telling anyone who’s interested that it’s likely much of Texas will still be in severe drought this time next summer, with water supply implications even worse than those we are now experiencing.
Young People Returning to the Farm
The commodity boom of recent years is creating opportunities for young people to return to the farm and ranch. Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus of Ag Economics at Virginia Tech, speaks to agricultural groups all over the country"
"I probably do 75 to 100 proograms a year with agricultural producers, the two few years I've seen more young people under 40 years of age, and the second trend I'm seeing -- more women."
And Kohl says it's not just about making money:
"These young people are saying, "Hey, we have a higher calling... we're providing food, fiber and fuel for the rest of the world out here." But you know what the other thing that they will say? Farming allows them to grow their best crop. And you know who their best crop sometimes is? Their children and teaching the values, the discipline..."
While it's a positive trend - Kohl says the young farmer boom has not yet reached all areas of the country.
Satellite Information Shows Reduction in Ozone levels
Satellite views of the U.S. show that ozone levels above 50 parts per billion along the ground could reduce soybean yields by at least 10%, costing more than 1-billion dollars in lost crop production. In a 5-year study scientists have found that ozone levels in most urban areas of the U.S. have declined with improvements in emission controls, but they are still high enough to damage soybean, peanut, cotton, rice, tomato and other crops.