Rain, Rain, Go Away
by Gerald & Tina Carlin
Do you remember the old children’s tune, “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day?” That tune is being sung repetitively by farmers all across the United States. The unseasonably rainy weather is taking its toll. Farmers are not able to plant this year’s crops, because their fields are too wet, totally flooded, or they are planting very late.
According to RFD-TV News, farmers in the Midwest are packing up their household items and leaving the farms. If they stay on the farm, the bank will end up calling their notes because of lack of income from the farm families to pay off their debt. There is no flood relief available from the Government to help regain these losses. The losses are incredible when you think about it. Hundreds of thousands, if not close to a million cattle, mostly calves, have lost their lives because the farmers were not able to get them somewhere safe because the flood water came up so fast. Hundreds of thousands of acres of cropland lay unplanted when the flood water came so fast that it washed away the fertile top soil. It is hard to imagine how they are ever going to recover.
There seems to be no official concern, however; after all we are in a “global economy” so we can import our way out of a crisis if need be. If we lose more farmers, it’s no big deal. Many officials consider this “progress” and believe that we can always get more immigrant labor to do farm work – “work that Americans don’t want to do.”
Here in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, we are facing our own hardships. With all of the rain that our area has received the last couple of months we were delayed with planting our crops and getting on our hayfields. There was an old saying that corn should be “knee high by the 4th of July.” Some farmers will not even be able to plant their corn crop this year because the corn has a long growing time until maturity. Many acres of farmland lay bare because the ground was too wet. Now the weather pattern has changed. Will there be enough rain for the late crops to grow? This is the stark reality of farming.
What does this all mean for you the consumer? Most of the crops that are going unplanted are corn, wheat, oats, barley, millet, other grains, and even produce. These are very important for our food supply. High grain prices are likely this coming fall and winter. This will make it even more difficult for dairy farmers and livestock farmers, many of whom already have low-quality forage because of the wet spring and early summer.
How the weather-related crop challenges will affect supply and price in the grocery store remains to be seen. Some types of produce may be in short supply or, depending on the item, may be nonexistent. If we are lacking in supply, our multi-national corporations will just import the supply they need from other countries, raising the question, “What are their growing practices and what chemicals are they spraying their fields with?”
The best way to get the produce and meat you need is to visit your local farmers markets. There are several in most counties in our area. Get to know your farmer. Be understanding, realize that farmers who grow what they sell face many challenges from weather, pests, labor shortages, etc. Because of this, they may not have everything that is normally in season, all of the time. Be grateful for what they do offer. Support your local communities by buying local. It’s what good food should be.
We welcome your questions and comments.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Gerald & Tina Carlin are the owner/operators of Carlin Farm and the 4 Seasons Farm Market. The 4 Seasons Farm Market (located on the farm at 3064 SR 3005, Meshoppen, PA 18630) is open year-round. Call 570-833-4592 for hours & directions.