Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington

“Mother Nature”

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now today’s commentary-

It seems that this year we have faced more costly climate challenges than I can remember. Hot dry weather in many states has provided ideal conditions for wildfires. So far this year 40,000 fires have destroyed 5.8 million acres. That exceeds 3.7 million acres burned per year in recent years according to the National Interagency Fire Center. We have read about and seen the fires in California threatening the sequoia trees in Yosemite Park. Let’s not forget about the homes burned and crops destroyed.

We do have research that reminds us that as devastating as it is this year, in the 1930s it was even worse. We watched 50 million acres go up in flames then. When I was a boy, my father talked about the deadly drought of the 30s. It wiped out his crop. Farm and ranch families can not escape Mother Nature. It might be drought, or a tornado, or flooding.

The Pro Farmer Crop Tour is complete, and they are giving their yield predictions. They dropped yield numbers for corn 600 million bushels which is 4.2% below the August estimate. The soybean estimate is close to the August number. Drought and heat destroyed many of our orchard trees. The cotton crop is half what was expected in Texas. And Texas is our biggest cotton producer. Our pork exports to China could more than double if we sat down with China and got rid of the tariff barriers according to a USDA economist.

Many farms depend on irrigation to water their crops. But with drought, many of our rivers out west don’t have enough water in them to satisfy the farms and all the people in Western towns. So, who gets the water? Of course, the cities and people do. Thousands of acres in California won’t be farmed. No water. We never know what our next challenge will be.

Another issue – EPA has extended a comment period on a proposal to strictly limit the use of Atrazine. The American Farm Bureau and the whole farming industry has filed comments telling the EPA not to implement changes. We don’t need stricter limits on the use of Atrazine. Atrazine is a component of 90 herbicides to kill brood leaf and grassy weeds. We have been killing weeds with Atrazine for years and years on my farm. The product is safe.

It’s Labor Day on Monday. Thank you to all the hard-working men and women that feed us, defend us, and make our country strong. Until next week….

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The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of nor the Southern Farm Network.