By John Crabtree
Center for Rural Affairs
The steady growth of organic farming and ranching across rural America and the economic impacts of organics on rural communities cannot be ignored. In 2012, the USDA is again investing $50 million in funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative, which provides a 75% share of the estimated cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify–90% for beginning, limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
The U.S. sheep industry is finding itself amidst an encouraging time: lamb prices are at an all-time high, the wool market is the highest it's been since 1989 and the cull ewe and pelt markets are very lucrative. However, from the farm gate through to the lamb and wool processing level, there is a shared concern about meeting the demand for lamb and wool production in the United States.
Many residents are experiencing warm weather and their focus is shifting to summer activities and a desire to head out into the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests. The Forest Service wants to remind recreational users that many forest roads remain closed to full-size vehicular traffic and have seasonal restrictions in place.
Innovative farming practices being developed by Uncompahgre Valley producers hold the promise of resource conservation and improved water quality.
Some of the work in this local soil health initiative attracted a U.S. senator here last week to meet with forward-looking producers and see an example of the projects that are being installed.