Reaping and sowing

The economy has put farmers in a tight spot, but there is good news out there, too.

NPR today reported on dairy farmers in California, the top dairy-producing state in the country. And while they may have funny commercials featuring talking cows, farmers like Joey Mendoza aren’t laughing.

“Mendoza says he’s squeezed between competition from mega-dairies, the high cost of feed and the dip in consumer demand. These days, he’s earning only about half of what it costs for him to produce each gallon of milk.”

From PBS NewsHour’s Patchwork Nation, there’s somewhat comforting news in Tractor Country, a key community the project is following. In Sioux City, Iowa, farmers are not feeling quite as despondent as Mendoza after a damp spring. Blogger Donald King wrote about the start of summer in farmland and shared his thoughts about the current climate.

“For areas like this, agriculture is totally wrapped up with the health of the economy. So it is as hard to ignore the state of the economy in Iowa as it is anywhere these days. I can report that at least in traditionally strong agricultural communities like Sioux Center and Orange City, Iowa, we are holding our own. Sure, everyone is behaving cautiously, spending is fairly flat, but no one is panicking, and unemployment is still below the national average.”

There’s also good news for the industry as a whole. This feature from earth-friendly web site Mother Nature Network features 40 Farmers Under 40 – many of whom are experimenting with new techniques of both growing and selling.

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