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
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.
Tim Daneliuk firstname.lastname@example.org
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
- 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.
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.
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
Tim Daneliuk email@example.com
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
cave creek, az
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.
"Keep your ass behind you"
vladimir a t mad scientist com
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.
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
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
cave creek, az
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
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....
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.
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...
: 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
I presume you're aware that Denver has eyes on the western slopes now,
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
CO will take every drop out of the Colorado too if they get half the
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.
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
The more accurate description is to change "very important" to
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
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.
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
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.
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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