Archive for September, 2009

Water ‘n Poo

Will Gilmer of Gilmer Dairy Farm in Lamar County Alabama does a great job using social media and the internet to bring the message of agriculture to the masses. Take a minute to watch his latest effort, Water ‘n Poo. Great job Will!

You can find Will on Twitter at


Boxer/Kerry Warming Bill Introduced Today

It does not have quite the ring to it that Waxman/Markey does, but you better get used to using the phrase Boxer/Kerry when referring to the Senate version of the global warming bill. Today Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) will introduce the Senate’s version of climate change legislation that seeks to achieve a 20 percent reduction in levels of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, compared to the 17 percent goal in the House bill.

Both the House and Senate bills feature a long-term target of an 83 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Unlike the House bill, the Boxer-Kerry bill does not contain provisions on distribution of emissions allowances among various industries and programs. Instead the bill has placeholder language that leaves those formulas up to future negotiations.

Boxer wants to have the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs, begin hearings on the 801-page bill on Oct. 20. Boxer’s committee is expected to easily pass the bill. However, the full Senate isn’t expected to consider the bill until next year. It is widely viewed on Capitol Hill that the bill still lacks the 60 votes needed to avert a filibuster threat on the Senate floor.

Colorado Ranked Second in U.S. Winter Wheat

wheat smallUSDA announced today that Colorado is ranked 2nd in U.S. winter wheat production for 2009, with estimated production of 98,000,000 bushels of winter wheat harvested, ranking only behind Kansas and moving ahead of Washington state.

On a 10-year average, Colorado has been 8th in U.S. winter wheat production, and was ranked 10th last year. Darrell Hanavan, executive director for the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee, said Colorado has never before been ranked so high.  Hanavan says cool June weather during grain filling and abundant moisture helped produce a large crop and crop failures in Texas and Oklahoma helped move Colorado up in the rankings.

“Colorado’s near-record yields far surpassed all of our expectations,” said Chris Tallman, a third-generation family farmer from near Brandon, Colo. “We knew we had an above-average crop, but couldn’t have anticipated being second in U.S. winter wheat production. I’ve never raised such a good crop on so little moisture. This record crop shows that the commitment and perseverance of Colorado farmers sometimes pays off.”

Colorado farmers have to sell more wheat to make the same amount of money as last year. Last year’s average price per bushel was $6.47. The current price farmers are receiving for their wheat is $3.50-$4.00 per bushel.

USDA increased their estimate of Colorado winter wheat acres harvested to 2,450,000 from 2,400,000 estimated on August 12, and their estimated yield per acre from 39 bushels per acre to 40 bushels per acre.

The Wheat Farmer’s Wife

Fall is finally here and at our place, that means there’s no rest for the wicked. Not even for the non-wicked. Even the dogs are tired.

The past days and weeks have been a dust-filled blur of feed cutting, drilling, baling, chicken butchering and hog synchronization for us as they have been for many producers around the state. This time of year, especially when I’m coughing and choking on bitter wheat dust, reminds me of the irony of my situation.

I married a wheat farmer and wheat seems to run deep through my family in all of its forms. My husband grows it, my step dad sells it in the form of flour to bakeries and eateries, and my sister’s family serves it up as a steaming hot plate of pasta at their Italian restaurant. I have Celiac disease so I avoid it like the plague. Ah, irony.

Celiac disease is an allergy to gluten, the protein in wheat that allows baked goods to not crumble into a pile or weigh twice what they should. It’s being more widely diagnosed these days but it’s still annoying and makes eating out a rather tricky and socially awkward ordeal.

They always say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but in our case, it was the other way around. When we were dating, my husband gathered a variety of gluten free baking mixes and flours and over the course of a few weekends, learned how to bake a variety of foods that didn’t have the taste and consistency to double as wrecking balls. He had me at the big, salty baked pretzels.

I know the poor UPS man thinks it strange when he passes the wheat fields on his way to our house, drives past the wheat trucks and the bins of seed wheat to bring over 100 pounds of gluten free flours to our door. I like to keep him on his toes. He’s bringing hog semen to us Friday but we won’t tell him what’s in the little styrofoam cooler.

Western Slope Prairie Dogs Cleared for Management

Recently, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) worked with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) to block-clear all black-tailed prairie dog habitat in Eastern Colorado. The decision was made after concluding the affected areas are no longer occupied by any wild free-ranging black-footed ferrets.

The Black Footed Ferret is an endangered species and prairie dog mitigation is restricted within known ferret habitat.

“This is good news for range conservation and management in eastern Colorado”, stated R.J. Jolly, CCA member. “There have been no reported sightings of a black-footed ferret in this area for many decades; and contrary to some beliefs, prairie dog populations are exploding out here. This will eliminate one very difficult and unnecessary hurdle in managing the population of prairie dogs in this area.”

Beef producers in the block-cleared area of Eastern Colorado can now properly manage black-tailed prairie dogs and/or their habitat without being required to meet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s survey guidelines for black-footed ferrets. This also means they will not have to undergo consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The block-cleared area does not include the white-tailed or the Gunnison prairie dog habitats that might occur within the area.

For a map of the block-cleared area, or more information on the black-footed ferret, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wild Service.

Restrictions Make Carbon Credits ‘Virtually Worthless’

David Miller, director of research and commodity programs for the Iowa Farm Bureau, tells the Des Moines Register that the House-passed climate change bill includes restrictions on farmers’ carbon-saving projects that could make the credits virtually worthless.

The legislation also includes provisions to guarantee that most of the credits permitted by the bill would go to landowners overseas who agree not to cut down rain forests. This would primarily benefit foreign landowners who generate the credits and hedge funds and other big investors who speculate in them.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called the proposed credit trading a “Rube Goldberg notion” that would wind up “transferring wealth out of this country to other countries around the world.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

The Des Moines Register article also includes a graphic that explains how the cap-and-trade system works.

Farmers for NISP Video

NCWCD has put togeather a great video that captures the comments of farmers and public officials at the recent Farmers for NISP Rally in Eaton. The rally was held to show the Ag community’s support for the NISP project.

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