Discussing climate change can be divisive in farm country, but more and more farmers today are willing to join the conversation. We talk with a corn, soybean, and wheat farmer in Ohio who’s been outspoken about the need to confront the issue.(No paywall)
American farmers, having endured the wettest 12 months in well over a hundred years and facing predictions that this could be the soggy new normal for the nation’s midsection, are looking at a variety of ways to speed up their processes next year, according to Bloomberg.
The USDA expects storm-ravaged farmers to file more than $1 billion in prevented-planting claims for fields they could not plant this year due to heavy rains and flooding, according to press reports.
Some growers may collect three or even four payments on land where they were unable to plant a crop this spring due to persistent rain and flooding, but no one is going to get rich off of it, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan unveiled a bill to make crop insurance available at lower cost to beginning farmers, and to make it easier for diversified farmers to get insurance. Less than 50 percent of small farmers, including organic, livestock, fruit and vegetable, and direct-to-consumer operations, have crop insurance, says a small-farm advocacy group.
A simulation by Texas A&M scientists indicates that winter wheat is a feasible cover crop for cotton growers in the arid Plains, says one of the researchers.
At the University of Nebraska, researchers are experimenting with the agricultural landscape to see if modifications such as windbreaks or cover crops will limit pesticide drift and help bees avoid harmful exposure to the chemicals. Farmers generally plant corn and soybean seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides, which can be rubbed off of the seed during planting and land on plants visited by foraging bees, says Harvest Public Media.
Iowa, which has been embroiled in controversies over agricultural runoff and water-quality issues, has announced a novel program to give farmers who plant cover crops a $5-per-acre discount on their crop insurance over the next three years, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Farmers taking part in a survey about cover crops reported a nearly 3-percent increase in wheat yields when cover crops are used in the offseason, says the Conservation Technology Information Center. This was the first time the survey compiled enough responses to calculate the impact on wheat; past surveys associated cover crops with higher corn and soybean yields.
The policies of the "Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, a taxpayer-funded insurance program managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and administered by a network of private companies,” punish farmers for environmentally-friendly practices, like planting cover crops, says Kristin Ohlson in FERN’s latest story, which was produced with Ensia.