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“... give us some rain and a little luck” [Farmers for Trump, Sept. 10, Rappahannock News].
But, what about floods, windstorms and wildfires?
I am a farmer. Farming professionally has provided my primary source of income for the last 11 years: we raise vegetables, fruit plus laying hens. My husband and I have managed two farms in Northern Virginia where we have made our living selling our products directly to customers in our local plus regional community. I am lucky to be able to grow food for myself and my local plus regional community. However I know that luck isn’t all I need to keep farming and make my living at it.
As a farmer, I know that the main difference between a good growing year and a bad one is the weather. I find farmers of all types to be extremely adaptable, good at solving problems and dedicated to taking care of their land and their crops despite what Mother Nature throws their way. But, our weather is becoming more erratic and unpredictable with each growing season.
2018 was my worst season running a farm: we received nearly 90 inches of rain. To put that in perspective, the annual average around here is 40 inches of rain. We harvested through downpours, trying to save every drowning crop in order to have a profitable year. But, it took a toll on our experienced crew and many decided that farming was too hard — not something they could continue to do.
This year, we happen to be fortunate — some might say lucky — especially when compared to other parts of the country. This week’s uncharacteristically early cold snap will bring a much earlier end to our summer crops — our main cash crops — weeks before we’re used to ending the harvest. But, we aren’t evacuating our farms for wildfires like farmers in California and Oregon. We aren’t dealing with hurricane force winds like farmers weathering the derecho that devastated 14 million acres of farmland in Iowa in August. Our region hasn’t sustained $800 million worth of damage from floodwaters and unrelenting rain that killed livestock and prohibited crop planting in Nebraska and Iowa in March of 2019.
Sure, the USDA could keep paying farmers for economic losses from extreme weather events that prevent them from growing or harvesting their crops. But, shouldn’t we elect an administration that is putting forth policies to slow the progress of extreme weather events by addressing climate change, so farmers can reliably do what they do best: grow food, raise animals, and care for their land? So that we have a chance to keep doing our jobs? So that we have a chance to help others become farmers?
I want to be able to continue to farm with some degree of certainty, predictability, and success. I want farmers, in each region of the country, to be able to feed their communities. It’s important to me that my employees learn that farming can be a viable career path and they choose to continue on. In order for any of this to be possible, I think we need a bit more than “some rain and a little luck.” We need a presidential administration that is committed to taking action on climate change.
I will be voting for a new administration in November, and I hope you will be, too.
The writer, a self-described ‘Farmer For Biden,” lives in Washington.