OT: Have we become that stupid ..

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Duane Bozarth wrote:

I happen to have a number of farmers in my family, though they have not done so recently. Farming is no different than any other business. It requires hard work, has risk, and can be very rewarding (personally and financially). You can also lose it all. But farming in the US is not just "hanging on". It is a thriving enterprise, the proof being the enormous amount of food being produced annually as prices remain stable or even decline in some cases. I tire of the constant whining about the "plight" of the farmers - a good many of whom feed at the public trough in the form of obscene Federal farm subsidies.
What is threatened to some degree is private ownership of small farms. But there is no God-given right to "my family's property" any more than there is to "my family's drugstore" or "my family's hardware store". Large corporations are making farming more efficient and cheaper and that's mostly what all the grumbling is about. This is no different than Ace hardware killing all the small hardware stores or Home Depot doing it to the local lumberyard, or Walmart blowing away the local appliance store. In each of these cases (including farming) the large corp has brought generally lower prices and better selection to the markets they serve. If they had not, they would not have prospered. In other words, the large corporations have brought economies of scale to their markets (including farming).
Farming is a business, no more no less. It is not special, does not deserve some kind of holy reverence, and it's practicioners - most all very hard working I agree - are not entitled to be insulated from the realities of the marketplace. In no way am I denigrating just how hard farmers work. They do. But so do fishermen, engineers, doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, plumbers, policemen, firemen, and electricians. *Anyone* who has a durable and sucessful profession has to work hard. However, hard work, in and of itself, simply is not a "get out of jail free" card to avoid the inevitable forces of market action.
I stand by my statement - farming today is more efficient and requires less land than ever. And this does indeed make land available for other uses. If the farmers still actually needed that land to survive, they'd never sell it in the first place to enable urban sprawl.
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Tim Daneliuk wrote: ...

That part is true.

This part is <not> true in general even though there are instances of folks selling out voluntarily. There are a myriad of reasons why farmers are forced to sell even they don't want to. Three of the most common include
- Zoning being placed in order to force them to cease - Tax rates being changed from agricultural use to higher rates making it impossible farm profitably. - Even imminent domain has been used.
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I would include another to your list - death. Father or uncle dies and estate taxes chew up so much that the farm's gotta be sold to pay the taxes on the thing.

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Kevin wrote:

Well, as much as I'd like to see the demise of the estate tax (or at least maintain the higher exemptions) and even though the Farm Bureau (of which we're members just to be on record) and some other groups are advocating it on this argument there doesn't appear to be much data that actually indicates its a very widespread problem.
The other issues of encroachment and unfavorable, even hostile legislatures that have become totally dominated by large city interests tend to be the most difficult issues. There's a current movement of dairies here from CA and AZ owing to restrictions that have been levied on their operations in those states, for example.
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Duane Bozarth wrote:
<SNIP>

Fair enough - these are all, everyone of them, abuses of government power and ought never to happen. Then again, I think the ridiculous level of farm subsidies are similar abuses of government power and ought also to never happen. I would be delighted to join farmers or anyone else to stop the wealth redistribution scheme that is our government whether by taxation, zoning, emminent domain, or outright handouts.
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the other thing that is occurring in this area is that one farmer sells out to a developer for an obscene amount of money, houses get built on that area, new owners don't like the smelly farm next door and raise a stink (so to speak), and the land becomes more valuable to new developers so that the farmers want to cash out while the going's good. this leads to a spiral of selling of farmland, where they don't really want to sell, but feel stupid for not doing so. throw in our 10 year drought, and a lot of farms disappear.
regards, charlie cave creek, az
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Charles Spitzer wrote:

I don't know where Cave Creek is specifically, but I don't think of anywhere in AZ as not in continual drought, at least from a dryland farming perspective.
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On Wed, 31 Aug 2005 19:35:15 -0500, Duane Bozarth wrote:

AZ ag uses a lot of irrigation. That water has to come from somewhere, such as the Colorado River. Drought upstream affects the available water supplies. Hence the Central Arizona Project, dams and reservoirs.
Much of Arizona is indeed arid. Much of it is not.
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Australopithecus scobis wrote:

True. People back east tend to have a different perspective. However AZ is arid, it just isn't all desert. From a back east perspective, anything under 25-30" of precip would be called arid by those in the east/midwest. That is why the U.S., west of the Mississippi River is called the arid west. Essentially all important/intense agriculture is irrigated from west of a line about midway through Kansas and that includes California, Washington, and Oregon.
The east coast and midwest generally have no concept of 10-11 inches precip per year let alone rates around 5 inches. It amuses me that so many people think of Seattle as being wet. Yeah it drizzles, especially in the winter, but there is no rain for a month at a time and some summers have had essentially 0 precip for 3 months.
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"George E. Cawthon" wrote:

That's <not> the question I posed to Charles as I specifically referred to arable land and dryland farming...I'm still wondering where he is and what he's referring to.
AZ certainly irrigates a great deal too much...

Little is suitable for dryland farming, too....

That's true, but I'm not from back east...

That's true, but that's not the question I raised...

That's overstating...there's a tremendous amount of dryland farming in W KS and all through the High Plains from TX to SK. Not that there isn't irrigation, but to say essentially all is not true...
Rainfall here is ~18"/yr altho we've only had something like 1" in scattered showers since July 1...the milo is hurting, but some is still going to make assuming we do get some more moisture before too much longer..

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cave creek is approx 40 miles north of phoenix.
annual rainfall averages 7.5". we've been getting about 4.5 for a long time, and very little in northern az where it is stored as snowpack. this year we've already gotten over the annual average, and in my area, already received approx 12". our reservoirs went from about 20% to 95% this year because of this, although we're told that the drought isn't really over and that wet years in the middle of droughts is historically common.
az used to be #3 in citrus production in the US, and had an enormous area planted in cotton. these orchards and fields are now long gone, plowed under, uprooted, and developed upon because the land simply got more valuable as developments with zero lot line single family mcmansions than farms.
regards, charlie cave creek, az
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Charles Spitzer wrote:

What I figured, thanks...

I'd think that not at all unexpected in such an arid climate and I'd think hardly count as a "drought" owing to the limited average. In such places (even here in SW KS, even w/ over twice the average) where most rainfall is the result of scattered thunderstorms, the concept of "average" is really statistical at best. Using another statistical term, I suspect that if one had really long-term records (not just 100 years or so, but long records) "runs" of such length would not be at all uncommon.
Snowpack, otoh, in the places where it is normal tends to be a much more nearly uniform process wherein fluctuations about averages aren't such extremes although again I suspect longer records would bear out similar previous patterns. I think most of NM and southern CO had at least reasonably decent snow years this past winter as well.
We've also been in a dry stretch again (this was, of course, the heart of the Dust Bowl in the '30s and has been a roughly 20 year cycle since) for the last 5 years although last summer from June to first of September we had the wettest stretch on record (of course, records here only go back to the late 1880's so that's not saying a lot). It then turned dry again and has stayed so all last winter and this summer. Not quite as bad as two and three years ago, but definitely seriously dry. Yet, Wichita has set all time records for them for August and the summer and have a good shot for the year.

Owing to the higher cost of irrigation, I suspect many of those would have gone away anyway as is much of the irrigated corn around here, for example. Water costs are simply too high.
Anyway, thanks for the info....
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actually farming water is pretty cheap. one of the largest reservoirs in this area was built by the farmers quite a long time ago, is filled by snowmelt, and is drawn down and delivered via canal for crop irrigation. we also have a canal that the rest of the country built for us that goes from the colorado river in the northwestern corner of the state, through phoenix to tucson. that is used mostly for drinking water, but some farms (mostly indian reservations) siphon from it.

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Charles Spitzer wrote:

I expect that to change...look at Sacramento Valley in CA for the model...as Phoenix and environs continue to expand, the large residential populations will overwhelm the rural constituency. Sad, but unfortunately, so far inexorable...
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: actually farming water is pretty cheap. one of the largest reservoirs in : this area was built by the farmers quite a long time ago, is filled by : snowmelt, and is drawn down and delivered via canal for crop irrigation. we : also have a canal that the rest of the country built for us that goes from : the colorado river in the northwestern corner of the state, through phoenix : to tucson. that is used mostly for drinking water, but some farms (mostly : indian reservations) siphon from it.
And the canal has an open top, so two thirds of the water evaporates before it gets here. Really smart design.
    -- Andy Barss
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Charles Spitzer wrote: ....

I presume you're aware that Denver has eyes on the western slopes now, too?
KS has been fighting w/ CO over their penchant for draining the Arkansas dry before i leaves the state for over 20 years. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court where KS won all claims. Unfortunately, enforcement has been problematical at best and we're now in the process of redress.
CO will take every drop out of the Colorado too if they get half the chance... :(
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

Don't know about that, it was just the statement that you thought it was continual drought. That's not true, if the average is 7.5" then 5" or less is a drought.

Just an opinion.

Sorry I was thinking you were from New England, must have gotten mixed up.

Possibly overstated, but the U.S. Government consider the 17 western states to be "Arid West" and in need of reclamation when they established the Bureau of Reclamation. That would put the line even further east. But I agree that does include productive land used for grains. But if you wish move the line to the Kansas/Colorado border. BTW, I didn't say essentially, I said "essentially all important/intense agriculture."

When you get the precip is very important to dryland agriculture. In the "arid west" rainfall is usually not sufficient because of the timing, so anything beyond pasture generally requires storage of runoff from snowmelt.
That still doesn't define drought, since a change from 60 inches to 30 inches would be a drought just as much as a change from 10 inches to 6 inches.
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"George E. Cawthon" wrote:

What I don't agree w/ is that dryland wheat, milo and cattle production is not important...(and to a lesser degree I don't agree that it isn't "intense" altho I susppose I know where you're coming from).
There's a major difference between the thought of what the High Plains are now as opposed to the time of which you reference. When folks left the East, this looked like desert to them. We now know better. As you go closer to the eastern slope of the Rockies the rain shield intensifies and the moisture drops. As a consequence it does turn into all range land and what farming there is is irrigated.
Being one of those whose grandparents, parents and now third generation made it through the 30s and continue on all dryland, I am sensitive to the propensity to simply pump water and dump it on fields. In 20 years I suspect a significant fraction of the irrigation here well revert to dryland or minimal irrigation like many areas in the TX Panhandle and south in the 70s.

No kidding! Strike the word "dryland" and you also have an accurate statement. The more accurate description is to change "very important" to "absolutely critical".

Not only is it "usually" not sufficient in the truly "arid" areas no matter what the timing, it is "rarely" if ever sufficient. That was my main point...there is damn little area in AZ, if any, that is viable dryland farming country which is what I (obviously erroneously after the followup) thought was being claimed.

You're assuming some things I didn't <quite> say...or at least didn't intend as you seem to have read it.
Yes, a drought is a period of below normal rainfall no matter what "normal" is, and one man's drought would be another's bounty. I lived in VA and E TN for nearly 30 years so I'm well aware of the differences. E KS even has averages approaching 40 and 50 inches/year where twice our annual would be severe drought.
What I was driving at was that in areas such as here and in AZ (out of the snowbelt in the mountains) where what rainfall is received is almost all the result of "hit-or-miss" thunderstorms that the propensity for larger variations in what could be considered "normal" from year to year is much larger than in areas such as TN where much rain comes from general weather patterns where it "just settles in and rains" over large areas.
Thus, while it is a dry year and can be called a drought, my belief is that in areas such as these it is really just a part of a cycle of wet/dry years that are just more accentuated in differences as compared to wetter climes simply because a reduction of 1" in annual precipitation in an area which only gets 10"/yr is much more of a reduction than the loss of the same inch in an area that gets 50"/yr.
I believe if there were recorded data from longer than these areas have been inhabitated these patterns would be observed and in a statistical sense we could see that these periods are simply normal patterns we call "droughts" because we want/expect things every year that aren't always consonant w/ reality.
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Tim Daneliuk wrote:

Well, there was another thread only a few days ago wherein I addressed this issue. The short story is that gov't has mucked w/ ag markets so much over the last 70+ years there's no way to avoid some effort to counteract the damage that has been done and the system that has been created.
As a simple example that you <may> recall, remember the Russian intervention into Afghanistan and the subsequent export embargoes? That combined w/ the followup repeats, totally destroyed the small grains markets and the small grains producers are still feeling the effects. There's no "free trade" there, sorry.
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less land...such a narrow view..and now uses way more more energy than it ever did. In many cases, the energy consumed to weed/seed/harvest etc. is greater than the energy produced (in calories) Many 'factory farm operations' are an environmental disaster. Think 'feed-lot and hog-farm'.
Never mind smelly hippies, try stinking opportunists. Carlisle Group making farm equipment now?
Your ignorance is only overshadowed by your arrogance.
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