Great Bend Tribune
Published December 24, 2017
First, here’s hoping everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas. Well it’s the year’s end and time for reviews. This week features what some of the important agriculture stories were for the year. Next week features the important stories for the year ahead.
- This is not a political column but for a variety of reasons, President Trump is and will continue to be a major story in agriculture. And the Republican House and Senate figure in here. It is irrelevant what your political leanings are but having the Legislative and Executive Branches of U.S. Government controlled by the same party combined with a nonconventional President has and will impact all aspects of agriculture and rural life for the foreseeable future. From the recently taxed passed act to immigration and changes in regulatory agency rulings, producers are already feeling impacts. Perhaps the biggest potential impact lies in the renegotiation of NAFTA and withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership. It is still too early to tell what the new Farm Bill will look like but it appears less income protection and help will be part of it. Currently many farm groups are lobbying hard to save NAFTA and for the Farm Bill.
- Prices. That pretty much says it all. While cattle prices have recovered a bit and farm income is projected to, on average, be better than last year, overall times will continue to be less than rosy. Believe it or not, the section of the country Kansas falls in (Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma) is in about the best shape of any part of the U.S. this year, mostly due to cattle prices. We simply have large supplies both nationally and internationally of staple commodities, even with decent demand. As economists always say, the cure for low prices is more low prices to increase demand and decrease the surplus. The one bright spot for some Kansas farmers and south is excellent cotton prices and in Kansas good lint yields.
- Weather always make the list. Weather this year featured two major hurricanes, wildfires in the Southern Great Plains last spring and out west this fall and an early hard frost in portions of the Corn Belt where most corn was late in maturing. Our region had a mix of drought followed by excessive rains followed by drought then rain and back to drought for many. Don’t forget severe ice storms in January, a cold spring, and now a La Nina which probably portends a fairly dry winter/early spring. Not to mention, the effects of climate change overall are hurting or helping agriculture, depending on where you farm.
- Pest pressure continues to present challenges, even with new technologies providing more options. Roundup resistant weeds continue to present major problems although progress is being made on expanding viable herbicide options.
- This column has already covered this but the advent of dicamba tolerant crops, soybeans and cotton, promised to be a blessing to help with weeds resistant to glyphosate. Instead it turned into a nightmare in major soybean growing areas such as Arkansas with millions of non-tolerant soybean acres affected. A lot of changes are and will occur with regulations for this topic.
As always there are many more stories and these are not in any particular order. Merry Christmas to all.