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As of July 1, the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture has a new name. We are now officially the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. The new name reflects the wide range of degrees offered by the college, but also recognizes that agriculture is not just growing things. Food is the primary reason for agriculture, along with fiber, biofuels, etc. Agriculture producers also have a great responsibility to protect and sustain the environment.
Inevitably, long names like this lead to acronyms so the new name has already been abbreviated as CAFE. Many people, myself included, who have been around forever, will still likely call it the College of Agriculture or the Ag College out of habit. Regardless of what you call it or hear it called, always remember that the college, and all of us as farmers and growers have responsibilities to those who use our products as food, and to protect the environment.
I did not have a column in the Enterprise last week because I was in Minneapolis, Minn. for my son’s wedding. We drove up and had the opportunity to see a wide range of conditions in crop fields across the grain producing states. We saw many different conditions, flooded fields, fields where corn and soybeans were just emerging and fields where corn was four to five feet tall. As expected, the further north we went the shorter the crops were but there is a significant amount of corn in the southern area, where land was too wet to plant early in the year, that is still less than a foot tall. It will be interesting to see how this corn develops.
There is abundant soil moisture that should make these crops develop quickly, even if the rains quit at some point over the summer. We were gone six days and it seemed that corn was a foot taller when we came back south. I am not a grain expert, but my guess is this will be a better than average year for grain farmers as far as yields go, but by no means a record year. There should be some easing of grain prices, which will help livestock and poultry producers, but it will still be a profitable year for grain producers.
Something that really amazed me about traveling through the midwest is how universally dependent the region has become on grain farming. From the middle of Indiana through Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota we saw very few herds of cattle and most land is not even fenced. It seems like we saw more ethanol plants than farms with cattle. I remember as a child traveling through the same areas and seeing much more diversity in the farming operations. This was long ago though so maybe my memory isn’t so good. In reality though, this specialization has given us great efficiency of production. The farms and equipment are bigger and one family farm can produce much more with less labor than ever. Diversity still exists but it is spread among regions now rather than existing on individual farms. By specializing in what they are best at producing farmers have been able to provide the lowest cost food in the world to American families.
The County Agricultural Improvement Program (cost-share) applications are available at the extension office. All applications must be turned in to the extension office by 4 p.m. Friday, July 12, 2013. By rules established by the Ag Development Board, late or incomplete applications will not be considered.
The Lebanon Farmers Market is getting into full swing with more items available each week. The market is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the pavilion on M.L. King Avenue in downtown Lebanon. We expect producers to be there with locally grown carrots, onions, potatoes, cucumber, tomatoes, yellow and zucchini squash, garlic, kale and peppers. They will also have baked and canned goods and homemade soap, locally produced honey and fresh eggs. Please come out and support our local producers. Come early. Tomatoes were sold out by 9:30 a.m. this past week.
The Farmers Market in Gravel Switch at the HartMart on Danville Highway will be open Thursday from 3-6 p.m. The Gravel Switch market should have everything that the Lebanon market has available.
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