Note: This story is embargoed for republication until Nov. 24, 2019
Efficient irrigation may produce more crops, but it doesn’t appear to preserve groundwater, according to a federal report released this week. Decades of irrigation has already depleted aquifers that many irrigated farms rely on, according to the report from the Government Accountability Office, and efficient systems appear to not help. Minus a few exceptions, GAO researchers found “there is no change in the amount of water farmers apply to a field with more efficient technology,” according to the Nov. 12 report.
Demand for bank loans, loan extensions and renewals is surging among U.S. farmers, and farm incomes are forecast to fall for a third year, as grain and livestock prices remain stubbornly low, according to reports from Federal Reserve Banks on Thursday.
Keith Rohl remembers the day he was asked to lease the coal rights to his farmland in Homer, Ill.
It was 2009, a wet year for the crops, when he was lined up at the grain elevator with his neighbors hearing about the proposed Bulldog Mine for the first time.
“The neighbors were all talking about, ‘You sell your coal rights, and you get to farm your land on top. You’re going to have all kinds of money and everything.’ And I thought ‘Boy, that sounds great to me, and I was ready to sign up,’ ” he said.
But the more Rohl talked with the company who planned to establish the mine, Sunrise Coal LLC, the less he understood about what the mine would mean long term for his community.
Despite links to health problems, including a World Health Organization report confirming that processed meats cause colorectal cancer, bacon has been popular enough in the last few years for pork industry workers to start referring to a “bacon tsunami.” The trend is good economic news for Iowa, the top pork-producing state in the U.S.