In session Thursday afternoon, July 19, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Board of Directors passed a resolution to demand that Congress act promptly and effectively to provide emergency disaster relief to farmers and ranchers who are being destroyed financially by drought. In a letter sent to Senators and Representatives for Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, as well as USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, RMFU President Kent Peppler warned, “Crop harvests may be the worst since the Dust Bowl, and without a decent harvest, high prices are both inevitable and meaningless for the actual producer. Prices of $7 or even $9 for corn don’t matter if you don’t have any to sell.”
Last year, drought conditions in the West forced cattle growers and dairies to shut down. This year’s drought has hit corn and hay crops and even pasturage across the entire nation. Costs for livestock feed are soaring and drought conditions mean that harvests may not cover the cost of growing food. Thousands of people in rural communities are losing the agricultural base of their economy. Beginning farmers and ranchers are especially hard hit because startup costs are so high. “Congress can’t stop the drought, but if they don’t do something to help our agricultural producers weather this disaster,” said RMFU Board Chair Jan Kochis, who farms near Limon, Colo., “then America’s food dependency will become as dangerous as our dependency on foreign oil.”
The Board urged Congress to address a crisis that will impact everyone who eats. Farms, ranches, and feedlots are going under daily. Our nation’s most experienced producers are selling off their assets for good, and our young entrepreneurs in agriculture are being slammed just as they get their feet on the ground. Everybody who eats has a stake in keeping food production domestic. Congress needs to act, act now, and solve this problem, not turn it into a campaign slogan.