We can’t ignore what leads to food shortages – September 2021
As we head into September we have a message from Tim Pexton, WyFB membership chairman, encouraging people to stay members of their county Farm Bureau Federation. The work Farm Bureau does on a local, state, and national level are important to all of us. Farmers and ranchers work hard to produce food for everyone in this nation. This task can be difficult when you consider things that impact agriculture, like the weather, that are out of our control. Other items such as state, national, and international policies can have a major impact but with everyone banding together to amplify our voice, the outcome can be influenced in favor of our farmers and ranchers.
The issues surrounding the ag supply chain drove home that even in America, where we have a robust ag sector, things can lead to food shortages in our supermarkets. Thankfully for all, the interruptions were short lived, but if we ignore some of the issues facing agriculture, that may not always be the case.
Recently the Western State Farm Bureau presidents and administrators met to discuss western issues that affect agriculture. The on-going drought was the big topic of discussion which is one of those weather-related issues that drive our lives, but we cannot do much about while it is occurring. We can do some things that will mitigate a drought before it happens, however.
We in Wyoming Farm Bureau have long advocated for water development projects which help conserve the water that does fall in Wyoming. These efforts have often been thwarted by federal regulations which delay or kill the projects. Meanwhile we also have aging infrastructure which supply water to our irrigated farms in Wyoming and the West that need to be addressed. Without the efforts of our forefathers at the turn of the last century it is doubtful much of the West would have the population or the ag production that supports our country. Now those projects are being threatened by regulations or political actions.
In visiting a farming area in California, it became evident that we have choke points for some of our fresh and canned produce production. Certain areas of California produce a major part of our canned tomato products. If this area runs out of water and can’t grow tomatoes, then its doubtful other areas of the U.S. could make up the shortage. Just like when the beef and pork supply chain was interrupted, this interruption will lead to shortages on grocery store shelves. But unlike the interruption in the beef and pork supply chain, this one will not resolve itself quickly. What will American’s do when they go to the store and can’t find tomato sauce or catsup or any of the myriad of other canned tomato products for months at a time?
Some of the water shortages being experienced in the West are a result of regulations which curtailed or prohibited dam development. Some are the result of water being reallocated from food production to other uses such as endangered species protection. When we have limited water and that limited water is prioritized as water for endangered species, then we may see food shortages.
On another subject, in late July we all learned of the death of one of our past senators, Senator Mike Enzi. We in Wyoming have been fortunate in the people we send to our nation’s Capital because they punch above their weight. It was evident this was the case with Senator Enzi when the U.S. Senate shut down for his funeral. Our condolences go out to the Enzi family. Senator Enzi’s knowledge and leadership will certainly be missed.
By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President