Climate control is all anyone can talk about. The USDA has stayed silent about the issue for long enough – and now farmers feel as though the USDA has failed them in a way that is unforgivable.
Many still question whether climate change is an issue – and more importantly, if it’s an issue greater than any other. The $144 billion budget of the Agriculture Department is not focused on extreme weather. Instead, only 1% of the budget helps farmers to adapt to “increasingly extreme weather.”
Rick Oswald, a farmer in Rock Port, Missouri had his home destroyed by heavy flooding in 2019. Weeks later, his fields are still underwater. His 80-year-old house had never had water in it. Now, it smells of mold. At one point, he had a beautifully manicured lawn and now grain bins are mingled with rotting corn spilling out.
He wants answers as to what the USDA is going to do to support him and other farmers.
Extreme rains and a “bomb cyclone” wreaked havoc on American farmers throughout the heartland. A bomb cyclone was an explosive storm that brought severe blizzard conditions and high winds to the area, destroying grain stores and killing livestock. It caused a significant amount of issues around the country with the inability to plant on 20 million acres. This encompasses approximately the size of South Carolina.
Plenty of other weather-related issues have been occurring around the country, too – fires in the west, hurricanes in the southeast, and more. It has led to some of the worst conditions for agriculture in decades.
The Agriculture Department isn’t doing much to help farmers. Experts are predicting that this is the new norm, so farmers are turning to the USDA for support. The department has been known to subsidized crop insurance, issue loans, and more. However, they aren’t helping farmers adapt to climate change – and farmers are now demanding to know why.
Farmers want help to rethink practices and know-how to withstand the periods of drought as well as the extreme rain that they are now experiencing within their regions.
Many are quick to blame the Trump administration because of not discussing climate change. However, farmers and scientists want to look at the facts. According to analysts, there is a widespread agricultural disaster as a result of record-setting rainfall. Some areas are recording the driest spring months in history while others are experiencing the wettest spring months in history. Only a portion of the country is experiencing a near average, which is causing many to be concerned.
Top officials aren’t addressing the issue directly – and this isn’t uncommon. However, it’s causing quite a conspiracy at lower levels. Many of the lower-level employees of the USDA don’t want to talk about climate-related issues because they fear that their job could be in jeopardy. Anytime new tools are developed to help farmers with climate change, they aren’t promoted. They’re also not on the main resource page of the USDA.
The problem isn’t new to the Trump administration, either. The Obama administration launched a minimal number of resources focused on regional climate “hubs.”
As a result of no one from the USDA wanting to talk about climate change, it is creating an under the radar Twitter account that allows farmers, ranchers, and others to discuss details – including the monsoon rainstorms, rising temperatures, and more. The Twitter account only has 3200 followers, too – and there are over 2 million ranchers and farmers throughout the United States. As for the Twitter account for the USDA, there are 640,000 followers and there is no discussion of climate change – and the word climate hasn’t even been discussed since December 2017.
The USDA is fighting against many of the claims being made. They have been denying that there’s any policy to dissuade the discussion of climate change. They are also rejecting the idea that the USDA isn’t doing anything to help the ranchers and farmers across the country. The USDA wants to talk about weather patterns as opposed to climate change. They want to avoid the topic entirely, regardless of what they say in interviews – and the proof is the number of ranchers and farmers who want to speak out about the lack of support.
While plenty want to blame Trump for what the USDA has been saying (or not saying) about climate control, the reality is that the USDA has avoided the topic for decades. The conversation has slowly been shifting, but it requires the administration to face the USDA head-on to ensure that farmers are being supported – or farmland could be in serious danger.