Sometimes an ag news item comes across your notification feed and lingers in the back of your head. This is not intended to be an ag news brief summary. It’s just a few clips of stories circulating and some thoughts on them. Feel free to join the conversation.
From The Associated Press:
“Agriculture losses in Florida from Hurricane Ian’s high winds and drenching rains could reach $1.56 billion, with citrus, cattle, vegetable and melon operations among the hardest hit, the University of Florida reported Tuesday in a preliminary estimate. The estimated loss for vegetable and melon crops in Florida ranges from $208 million to $393 million. For horticultural crops – flowers, landscape plants, ornamental trees, sod grass – the loss could top $297 million. And for cattle and other animal production, it’s as much as $221 million.”
Just my opinion
The citrus crop was already in a slump because of an inclement growing season in 2022, so Ian squeezed the industry further. It reminds me of COVID-19 deaths reporting – that number rapidly climbed and influenza deaths dropped to practically nothing at the same time, so maybe numbers got shifted from one column to another without a lot of delineation. With orange harvest predictions already low, maybe some damages from the hurricane got thrown in or mixed into the same tally. Maybe it doesn’t matter – the result is the same: Orange juice prices will soar.
If there is a silver lining to this cloud, perhaps it is that labor shortages will not be felt as keenly, although that’s not much consolation.
California’s big-reach ag mentality
You may remember California’s Proposition 12 on the ballot in 2018. In it, California regulated the sale of pork from other states. It involves bans on the sale of pork from hogs that do not meet the state’s production standards, even if the hogs were raised outside of California. Proposition 12 makes it a criminal offense and civil violation ($1,000 fine or 180-day prison sentence and subjects the seller to a civil action for damages) to sell whole pork meat in California unless the pig it comes from was born to a sow that was housed with 24 square feet of space and in conditions that allow the sow to turn around without touching her enclosure.
Just my opinion
The weird thing is: California imports 99.87% of the pork it consumes. So the legislation is targeted toward the pork industry as a whole – outside of California. But no worries, CDFA proposes California’s agents will police compliance through inspections on out-of-state farms (so generous of them, right?) and will require an audit trail for every cut of pork. Which makes me laugh – how many stickers do you suppose would show up on one package of hot dogs? Because every morsel of that would have to be accounted for. Rarely is a whole hog sold as one piece.
Because it was voter-initiated, legislators did not vet any of the science behind the proposition. It’s PETA bandwagon legislation. And it passed and was upheld on appeal. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will use more common sense.
Agritourism up in smoke
It was one of those events you vaguely run through in your what-if planning stages, and then dismiss quickly because it’s too ridiculous to contemplate. In this case, what if a fire started in the field where everyone parks at the pumpkin patch?
And sure enough – Bell County, Texas, firefighters responded to just such a fire, but not before 73 cars were destroyed. Typically, Robinson Family Farm opens for Easter, a pumpkin patch and pre-cut Christmas tree sales. No one was seriously hurt in this fire, which is a blessing.
Just my opinion
Agritourism is a risk, and it frightens many farmers and ranchers away from participating. We’re driven by that fear, and fear makes us very uncomfortable. That reluctance (while somewhat reasonable) is also one of the reasons the general public doesn’t know our industry very well. We lock down the farm, ranch or dairy. But that’s what insurance is for – just balance your fear with insurance.
I had a conversation with a rancher not long ago, and they asked me if “print was going away.” Especially since we had put so much emphasis on our new website’s launch and the tie-in to the other ag magazines we publish.
Just my opinion
When newspapers started folding about 10 to 12 years ago, the prevailing thought was media was changing forever, and print would no longer be viable within a short time. Ag industry surveys, however, shed some really interesting light on influencing factors: The average age of farmers/ranchers is still closer to 60 than 55, and this demographic group (while also using electronic media sources) still relies heavily on print; and the younger producers (age 25 to 45) reported using both media outlets – print and electronic.
And data was collected for other “niche” industries (and with less than 3% of the population on farms/ranches, agriculture fits into the niche category) indicates print magazines are still viable, are still read and are still in demand by those communities.
As we all know, there are younger producers coming into the industry who have never opened a magazine or newspaper. If it doesn’t come up on their phones, they don’t know about it. That demographic group has a large impact on media companies who must find and engage them. Hence, social media posts, electronic newsletters, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc., are avenues all media companies now amplify. It isn’t just one sector we want to reach or one demographic. Our hope is to reach them all, so our offerings have to be more robust.
But will print ever go away? Not likely. Not for agriculture.