“Water is Scarce, Water is Rare”

“If we don’t start doing things differently, there won’t be agriculture to pass down.”

Climate change is a hot-button political issue, but in the Western U.S., no one can deny that the drought and above average temperatures are real. Mike Nolan, a young farmer in Mancos, Colorado, gives an insider perspective on farming in extreme weather conditions, building resilience, and shares how an innovative conservation policy idea that started over beers and ended up in the Senate farm bill.

What is the path forward for farmers in the arid West?

Mountain Roots Produce:
https://mountainrootsproduce.com/aboutus/

U.S. Drought Monitor:
https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Drought Diaries:

The Drought Diaries

Episode Transcript

 

This is the Young Farmers Podcast. I’m Lindsey Lusher Shute. Today I’m speaking with Mike Nolan, a farmer at Mountain Roots Produce, and chapter leader at the Four Corners Farmers and Ranchers Coalition that’s based near Mancos, Colorado. Mike is already growing in a dry climate, but this year has been especially tough. He explains the challenges brought by drought and severe weather and how he is cop

ing with it all. He also tells us how micro-equip, an idea he had over some beers, made it all the way to the Senate version of the farm bill.

I’m Julia Sherman, farmer at Rag and Frass Farm in Jeffersonville, Georgia, and a leader of the Middle Georgia Young Farmers Coalition. I’m a member of the National Young Farmers Coalition because it’s so important for young farmers to work together to create change. For $35 a year, you can join too. In addition to being part of a bright and just future for agriculture in the United States, you’ll also get discounts like 40 percent off Filson and 25 percent off farm to feed socks. To join, go to youngfarmers.org.

 

 

Mike:                                         You know, you guys had that at your place. You had that massive hail storm.

Lindsey:                                   Yep. Mmhmm.

Mike:                                         You know, we’ve had like kind of like one of those events or something like that, like every 10 to 14 days where it’s like—

Lindsey:                                   Woah Woah Woah…

Mike:                                         We’re like really? It’s either hail or bug infestations or water issues or smoke or fire or something.

Lindsey:                                   Ah wow, you’ve had it all. So can you just, you know, even now when I talk about the water situation, particularly to really new farmers where you are, who are east coast farmers, it’s just so different. I mean you’ve farmed on this side of the country for a while so you can understand the contrast. Could you just very briefly describe how your farm gets water?

Mike:                                         Yes, definitely. Um, basically our water rights go back to the late 1800’s. They’re some of the oldest in the state, so a lot of the farms and ranches here have adjudicated water rights. So they’re water rights that kind of stay with the ground. Like ours come off river. So we have river water rights and then we also have storage water rights. So we have storage water out of our lake, which serves to make this valley, and that deeds us an acre foot of water per acre on an annual basis. And then we have–

Lindsey:                                   And that’s not water that you have on your farm–that’s in the reservoir.

 

Mike:                                         Yeah, that’s in a reservoir. And that reservoir also serves Mancos role water, which is our domestic water. It serves the town of Mancos and it also serves to Mesa Verde National Park. And that reservoir is small compared to a lot of place

s. It’s only 10,000 acre feet when it gets full. And right now after this summer, I think it’s sitting at about 1400 acre feet going into the winter with the 2 municipalities or municipal water. Mancos and Mesa Verde will be continuously using it all winter.

Lindsey:                                   Okay. So over 10 percent full. Uh, how does that compare with a normal August? Like where should the reservoir be at this time of year?

Mike:                                         You know, normally the reservoir would be 30 to 40 percent full, possibly higher. The tricky part this year, Lindsey, was that in a normal year we get to run off our adjudicated water, our priority water, and in the past five years on this place we can run off river water until about, you know, fourth of July, sometimes early August, and this year we didn’t get a single day of river water. And then our storage water was limited to 60 percent of our total allotment. So this is really abnormal. And the hardest part about it honestly was we didn’t get any precipitation all winter, so the ground was so dry. So even hay guys around here, they could grow two to three inches of water in 24 hours on hay grounds and it would just drop right into the water table. Like you’d come back seven days later and it’d be bone dry.

Lindsey:                                   If you have senior rights, then there’s a lot of other people who clearly didn’t get water either.

Lindsey:                                   Yeah. Some folks, I mean, some folks still have river water. Um, so here’s kind of an interesting thing. The town of Mancos is priority 3, but the priority is sitting at two right now. Um, so the town of Mancos is actually using their storage water and there’s two irrigators in the valleys that are priority one and two that are using water right now to irrigate hay. So the town has actually fallen out of priority, which rarely happens.

Lindsey:                                   So the town has fallen out of priority for its river water?

Mike:                                         Yeah. So the town usually is able to pull off the Mancos River for their domestic water use. Um, but right now they’re just pulling off the lake

Lindsey:                                   And so they’re further depleting the reservoir?

Mike:                                         Yeah. And I don’t totally know what their usage is. It’s a small town so I can’t imagine it’s more than an acre foot or two. So yeah, they were using their lake water. Everyone’s on storage water right now and it’s scary out there.

Speaker 2:                              Yeah. So you have received 60 percent of your total allotment this season for storage water. How is that impacting the farm?

Mike:                                         So we, this winter by farm partner and girlfriend Mindy Perkovich and I kind of sat down and we knew it was going to be tight, so we wanted to, we knew we needed to do the CSA crops and we can kick that on domestic water. Then we kind of had tears of like, okay, storage, beets, potatoes, winter squash. You know, last year we did about seven acres in production. This year I think we did about 1.7 or 2 acres of production. So we’re super limited. Our water came on about four weeks later than it should and we’ve been out of water for I think two and a half weeks now. And we’ve had like barely any rain. We’ve been running off our Mancos role water just to ease things along, and we’ve just taken crops that we would like to finish out, like the cabbage and the beans. And we’ve either just mowed them and decked them or picked them early. We could afford the water with rural water.

Lindsey:                                   That’s like from the town?

Mike:                                         It’s our domestic water for the valley. So it, you know, we don’t like to use too much of that stuff because the Ph is a little bit off. It’s a little bit higher in salt, it’s chlorinated.

Lindsey:                                   It’s treated water.

Mike:                                         It’s treated water and I hate using treated water for vegetable production personally.

Lindsey:                                   And it’s expensive I imagine.

Lindsey:                                   Oh yeah. You know, we budgeted about a thousand dollars for the last six weeks of the season to be able to tide us through.

Speaker 2:                              Wow. So what, so what is next for you guys for next season? Doesn’t seem like it’s expected to get much better next year and the reservoirs are lower than in previous seasons. What are you thinking about for the 2019 season?

Mike:                                        We’re thinking a lot of stuff. It’s, you know, with all the workers in NYC, you know, we are always talking about resiliency, right? Resiliency and drought. And what I’ve realized this year is that I can totally figure out how to be resilient, resilient with my markets and crop production. What I’m having a hard time with is being resilient in relationships and with mental health. And I don’t think that Mindy and I could do this again next year. I think it would crush us. So if things don’t get better, we’re just going to get jobs for a year. Um, we’ll have some water. We’ll be able to cover crop things great for some rain. Um, in the meantime, financially we’re okay. Like we’d have enough to start up again next year. Um, but if we don’t farm, we won’t have enough to do it again in 2020. We’re being, we’re trying to be really pragmatic about it and not take it too close to heart personally if we can’t farm next year, because fighting it is not..you can’t fight this. In order for us to be looking good next year. Um, and these are things I think folks out of the Mountain West don’t totally understand about water is that, you know, we need some good fall rains to wet the mountains so that the snow, and then we need a good snow pack and then we need a good slow melt. And the reason why we want mountains to go in wet is that if the mountains go in dry, which is what happened last year, the little bit of snow there, you know, for every 10 inches of moisture up there, you can lose 40 to 60 percent of it to the ground and we want that to run into the rivers. So we need to kind of have like a very normal fall, winter, spring, um, in order to kind of pull ourselves out of this.

Lindsey:                                  If there are those conditions possibly in the fall, then you and Mindy might consider making a go of it for 2019.

Mike:                                         The plan will be to farm next year until we really get those clear signals that it’s not a good idea basically. Every year is a gamble that, you know, I have this silly analogy when it comes to this water stuff that helps me understand it, is that it’s all this stuff. It’s kind of like a GPA. So it’s like you do all this. It’s good, good, good, good, good. And then you have one year or one bad grade and it totally screws you up. And then it can take years to get back to that place that you were prior. And that’s kind of where we’re at now is that one winter is not going to save us. We probably will have a limited year next year. It’s going to take a couple of good winters and some good summer rain to pull us out of this.

Lindsey:                                   And what are you hearing from folks who give technical support and are making projections on the weather?

Lindsey:                                   You know, all spring they were like “this is going to be one of the best months and years on record” and we have gotten about an inch of moisture or less than that all summer. And so it’s like they’re predicting for a wet fall. But I, I honestly have no idea like what to expect. We’re just grateful that it’s cooled off a little bit because the other thing is that, um, our nighttime and daytime temperatures are five to 10 degrees above average for most of the summer as well. It was, it was a very bizarre summer here. But you know, some of my 80 year old neighbors are like, they’ve never seen this before. So we have some CSA members that do, you know, there’s a lot of folks that work for the FEDS around here, a federal government, whether it’s BLM, Forest–

Lindsey:                                   On federal lands?

Lindsey:                                   Yeah, national parks, I mean they employ so many people in our region because we’re surrounded by every form of public lands. Um, so there’s lots of scientists and biologists and we have a woman who is a CSA member and she does lizard studies and she was telling us that she’s seeing Pine, Pinyone and Juniper trees that are 80 to 90, 100 years old, just completely dying in front of her plot that she’s researching.

Lindsey:                                   Because, because of the weather, because of lack of rainfall.

Mike:                                         2018 is one for the books is the most quiet way I can say it.

Lindsey:                                   And then on top of that there was, was the 416 fire, is that the one that has impacted you as well? I know there have there been quite a few in the region.

Mike:                                         The big impact of the fires is that, um, it just, it hit the economy super hard. Everybody’s numbers are down. I mean, wholesale numbers are down across the board for farmers. People weren’t eating out as much. Tourism kind of dropped off. Honna and Daniel, who are NYFC members, um, they’re about 45 minutes away from us. They were saying that there was a four or five week period where their wholesale numbers were down about 60 percent or more. Locals were leaving town, so they weren’t buying the local restaurants and tourists weren’t coming and it was just this really weird—. Like one restaurant we sell to was closed for three weeks because the fire, because they couldn’t access it, um, they’ve pulled them out of there on opening night. So we’d lost that account for about three, four weeks. And then you first smoke on top of that and you know, that kind of messes with the plants, we would call it. It was causing all of our head-lettuce successions to bolt, because I think it was messing with their, with their daylight requirements. You’d have multiple times where our visibility was like a mile and a half, two miles and the sun was red. Kind of like the eclipse last summer. And we would plant these head-lettuce successions and they would just barely grow and then bolt. It was usually a couple days after you’d have one of those kinds of smoke events. So yeah, that’s another, another crazy thing about the fires, but the economy hit was the really big one. Um, and I will give props to everyone, like being really resilient about it and also to our elected officials on both sides of the aisle that showed up. I mean we had our congressional rep, both senators, governor, um, everyone in the State House, State Senate, county commissioners. Everyone’s really pushing for people to like come back to our area because we’re such a tourist economy.

Lindsey:                                   Just by, just by promoting it and saying it’s still safe. You should come. It’s beautiful.

Mike:                                         We’re still open for business.

Lindsey:                                   I mean, I guess that sort of brings me to another question. How does policy relate to any of this and what do you want elected officials to do to help farmers in your region?

Mike:                                         Havin

g direct assistance payment is I think what they really need. There’s so many cattle producers, hay producers, you know, producers that are just on the verge of bankruptcy. The last thing they need is a loan.

Lindsey:                                   And you’re talking about like an emergency loan offered by a farm service agency?

Mike:                                         Yeah, and those, you know, I appreciate those and I think they work for some people, but we’re down here with our state representative, Marc Catlin, and that’s what all, I mean these are guys and girls that do not want to ask the government for everything. And they were like, we need something. Otherwise, you know, our centennial farms are going to be filing for bankruptcy and we’re done. And there’s no reason for the next generation to come in if it’s not economically viable in any way, shape, or form.

Lindsey:                                   I don’t disagree with you at all. But I wonder what is the strategy to keep those farms viable if these conditions continue? Like I think they do need, you know, more than a loan potentially. But like for how, I mean no one knows for how long. What we’re seeing with global warming is only going to make these conditions potentially even worse than they are now. So what are people talking about just like the future of agriculture in the region? Like is there a path forward?

Mike:                                         Yeah. So I would, I think that’s a great question. I don’t think it’s smart for anybody to prop up types of agriculture that are long-term unsustainable. Stewardship-wise, but also economically. I think a couple of steps would be to like prop things up now and get it so you know, these families aren’t dipping into all their savings and their kids are going to be left with nothing. Just prop them up for a minute so we can all sit down and figure it out. There are a lot of families in this region who are coming to. I’m on the Mancos Conservation District Board as well. And we have multi-generational families and cattle families that are coming to our offices being like, “what can we do that’s different? Like what crops can we grow that are more profitable, what’s up with all this market gardening stuff? What’s up with this root crop vegetable stuff? Like what can we change to be more economically versatile and resilient?”

Lindsey:                                   And what are they growing right now?

Mike:                                         I mean in this valley like hay and cattle. There’s no real crop production in Mancos per se.

Lindsey:                                   So one of the things that I’ve heard you talk about that I appreciate is this need for young farmers to really stand with multigenerational farmers. Some farmers who are doing things very differently at a much different scale. You describe culturally like the importance of having this farm community intact. Can you just speak to that for a minute? Like why do you think it’s so important to have these larger farms in your region?

Mike:                                         Farmers make up two percent or less of the population and whether somebody is raising commodities or you know, these hay guys are raising hundreds of acres of yay, you know, and hundreds of heads of cattle, and I’m over here doing an acre or two of potatoes. We’re all on the same boat. We’re all in that small number of people. So, inadvertently creating divisions, being like we’re really different and better or worse than or any of those kinds of things. I don’t think that’s helpful because you sit down with a lot of these farmers and ranchers and you know, I understand there’s a unique set of struggles that NYFC is addressing really well when it comes to young and beginning farmers and ranchers, but they’re not too dissimilar to some of the things that these farmers or older farmers or ranchers have gone through and also are kind of struggling with too. I mean it’s still hard to make a living whether you’re starting out or three, four or five generations in. It can be really challenging. You know, there’s just such a wealth of knowledge there. And so like that kind of cohabitation is really important to me.

Lindsey:                                   We’ve definitely had a similar experience in New York. Just really needing those farmers to be there for so many reasons because they’re the reason we have a tractor dealership and a market, you know, and availability of, you know, mechanics and even if we’re doing things totally differently and even if they think we’re crazy on some level, you know, they still, there’s still like this mutual respect and understanding about the life we live and the hours we work and the seasonality and the risk and that sort of thing that is just like so, so vital for farmers to do well. I think it’s just too hard to be out there by yourself.

Mike:                                         It’s pretty awesome to have those kinds of connections.

Lindsey:                                   So, you know, on the federal level, I think people are looking at conservation programs. Do you think conservation programs can help them in a moment like this?

Mike:                                         Oh yeah. I mean, I don’t have any ground and obviously in CRP. And there’s a lot of ground in our region that’s in those conservation programs, and on a year like this that ground has become really vital. A lot of folks up in the Duck Creek area and some of these other places in Montezuma county and Dolores County, the state has allowed them to graze their CRP ground, which has been in literally a lifesaver for some of their herds.

Lindsey:                                   So you guys in the Southwest are really feeling the brunt of climate change. And I think people are, seems like with, with rising temperatures and extended drought, folks are more comfortable pointing to your farm and saying, Oh yeah, that’s climate change. So do you feel, how do you feel about the government’s response on climate and to what extent do you feel like there should be greater action taken on it? Or do you feel like it’s just so slow moving? It’s not really gonna make a difference?

Mike:                                         That’s a loaded question.

Lindsey:                                   Like, if anyone should be complaining, it’s you and you’ve got a pretty strong case to make that climate is having a major impact on your farm, on the local economy, on food security. I mean, I feel frustrated about some events that I associate with climate change in New York, but we’re not having to cut our production by more than half. Do you feel like, um, we should be taking more action on climate? Do you feel like the farmers in your region are feeling more passionate about climate issues as well?

Mike:                                         To be totally frank on a federal level, with the Paris accords and all those other things, I honestly don’t know what the Feds can do. The western slope for the most part is pretty conservative. Folks don’t want government help for the most part. What I see is that that’s changing a little bit. So people want pipelines put in, they want dams and storage upgraded. Um, but what I see is people aren’t really on the ground talking about climate change. What they’re talking about is that water is scarce and water is rare, and we need to adapt our farming models and we need to do all this kind of stuff. So it’s kind of funny. Like I don’t, we don’t actually have the climate change conversation around here all that much, so I don’t know how much whatever the Feds are going to do is really going to change that? There’s a lot of people, the majority of folks around here understand that something is changing and that if we don’t start doing things differently, there won’t be agriculture to pass it down to the next generation.

Lindsey:                                   So when they’re thinking of doing things differently, that’s we need to farm differently, we need to manage water differently. It’s not we need to stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Mike:                                         Yes, exactly.

Lindsey:                                   And uh, and I guess it’s like we have to bring these communities together at some point, right? Because you guys are feeling that you are, you’re in it, right? You have the stories to tell that I think can really move people to take action, broader action on climate change. Obviously taking care of this season and next season and keeping a family and business needs to be priority one. But clearly to achieve climate mitigation, to lessen the longterm impacts for, you know, for 100 years from now, we all sort of have to have that recognition of how the United States and globally we’re impacting this situation.

Mike:                                         Yeah, I totally agree. Mindy and I were having a conversation about this maybe yesterday, the day before. You know, a lot of the old timers that we know, like they just don’t believe in climate change. And I said, well, what I’ve kind of realized is that when you tell somebody who’s in their sixties or seventies that climate change is going on, I don’t know if it’s not that they don’t believe it, but I think their perspective is that they’ve been farming for 60 years. Every year is completely different. They see what they think is climate changing all the time. So telling them like we need to do something. They were like what are you talking about? Like we’ve kind of realized that kind of stuff and I think that’s like, you know, a lot of the others, like the things you’re talking about, I agree with. And I think for me, doing what we can here when it comes to management practices in water efficiency, I think that’s really huge.

Lindsey:                                   When President Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Accord, was there any reaction from the farm community?

Mike:                                         No.

Lindsey:                                   No. Yeah.

Mike:                                         Not really. But also, you know, we live in the wild west, like, you know, I grew up in California and living here now the political landscape is, I find it super intriguing. It’s like you can throw yourself into a ditch in the middle of winter and anybody’s going to come by and pull you out, like people get along really well here and you know, you just don’t talk politics.

Speaker 2:                              It’s like we have, we have to maintain these strong and positive relationships that are really driven by being neighbors and being fellow farmers and community members, but also figure out some way to recognize and take action on these global issues because they are also impacting us locally too.

Mike:                                         I think the other thing, you know, with doing all the advocacy within NYFC and locking down Farmers Union and the conservation district and all this kind of stuff, is there are people in our region doing that thing you’re talking about. And I just realized my role is to not do that. I’m going to sit on my four wheeler on the fence line and talk to my neighbor about, you know, whatever. You know about the boxes and chickens and like what’s wrong with this chapter and all this kind of stuff. And that’s kind of my end.

Lindsey:                                   Yeah, I mean it’s all gotta sort of start at the fence line anyways. Right. It’s has to be like a personal trust and communication.

Mike:                                         Yeah.

Lindsey:                                   So my last thing, I just wanted to congratulate you on micro-equip and getting that into the Senate version of the farm bill. And I wanted to ask you just to, if you could describe sort of the process of making that happen.

Mike:                                         Yeah, thanks. You know, it’s funny. So Alex funk, who used to be the western policy director, so we we’re at convergence two years ago in San Diego.

Lindsey:                                   And I’ll say, convergence is National Young Farmers Coalition’s gathering of chapter leaders from all across the country. And Mike is the chapter leader of Four Corners.

Mike:                                         Basically, we were sitting around one evening after everything having some beers and what I realized about this, it’s very hard to get anything new into the farm bill, and so if you do want to make changes or want something new, to me the smartest way to go about it is taking an existing program and make an adjustment. And part of the inspiration was what you did and what NYFC did in its early days with the micro loan.

Lindsey:                                   Microloans. Sure.

Mike:                                         Yeah. So you were taking something that’s there and you’re like well let’s just tweak it and see if we can get more people in the door and more people accessing it. So that’s kinda the idea between for micro-equip. There’s lots of programs that small scale growers can access, but there are certain aspects of it that’s really challenging, but the hope is to change the equip program a little bit. So we just have more young beginning and small scale growers walking through the doors in our CRS offices. That alone to me is super beneficial because if we don’t have that generation of folks coming through the door, what’s the point of those offices being there in 20 years?

Lindsey:                                   And it’s like the identifiable product for I think a lot of young farmers, the micro loan has been. So, like they know, “oh yeah, farm service agency through USDA. They have those microloans. I should go check that out.” Now that so many new farmers have gotten microloans, it’s like it seems like a place to start for a lot of people, which is great. So and micro equip– so environmental quality incentives program, which is how we’ve used it on our farm for instance, to do high tunnels, to build greenhouses for season extension. Was there a project on your farm that you sort of had in mind when you were thinking about this concept?

Mike:                                         I had looking at the cover crop payments. We do a lot of cover cropping here and the payments didn’t make sense for me to access them, both for my agent to deal with the paperwork and also for me to make the trip over the Cortez to kind of deal with it. A lot of the payments for some of these programs… they’re scaled out so big. So the payments per acre are actually really low. So how do you incentivize somebody who’s doing say three acres or two acres of market grabbing crop who’s contributing to the local economy? How do you incentivize them to go and access something for subsurface drip or some sort of other aspect of an equip program where the payments are really low? And I think if there was a micro equip where paper work was kind of streamlined and we could kind of trial out some of these programs to see if they can be scaled differently or the payments could kind of be different, I think that’d be really great.

Lindsey:                                   All these programs and why the micro lending program was necessary, all of the paperwork is pretty intense. I mean it’s a lot because it’s written and designed for oftentimes a much larger system, a much larger farm and much more scaled farm than what many of the projects that beginning farmers are bringing to the table. Like that’s, that’s why we just need to have, you know, different, a more flexible system that can make it easy for agents to say, of course. Yeah, let’s, let’s work with you. I have this program that was designed for this case.

Mike:                                         Yeah, exactly, and that’s the thing. I will say, I’ll give a shout out to Julie, our NRCS agent over there in Cortez. This program wasn’t coming out of him not being able to do anything or that office not being able to do anything. It’s more that with the hiring freezes and everything going on, these offices are stretched so thin there. So part of the idea of micro equip is to obviously incentivize young beginning and small acreage growers that need to instill, like you’re saying, we need to incentivize the agents. They do so much work and there’s just so much paperwork and bureaucracy to be able to access these things. So if this program can alleviate even a little bit of that, I think they’d be much more amenable and available to work with young, small beginning producers.

Lindsey:                                   So the idea for this started with you and Alex having beers at convergence and then like what was the, what was the next step?

Mike:                                         Well it’s funny like when we had the idea we weren’t expecting it to go anywhere, to be quite honest. Like, you know, we were just like, we both thought it was a good idea. So then like, you know, Kate Greenberg, who’s western program director, you know, I told her about it and she talked to people about it. I talked to Andrew in DC about it and it just kinda kept on getting kicked around. It was like kick the can to be quite honest. It was just kinda like, oh, this got mentioned here, it got mentioned here, it got mentioned at Bennett staff or it got mentioned to Tifton and it got mentioned blah blah blah. And you know, I think it’s serendipitous to a certain degree. I think we’re lucky because there’s all this awesome NYFC infrastructure. For some silly reason, I love policy. And also, our state Senator Michael Bennett is also on the Senate Ag Committee. So there’s these little things that part of it’s luck, part of it’s hard work. Yeah. And I think eventually it just kind of got picked up like when all that went down and I was like, okay, this is, this is crazy. All of a sudden, you know, there’s like a signed thing with Michael Bennett’s signature being like, you know, “this is going into the farm bill” and he’s like saying my name on the Senate floor and I’m like “okay,” so at least you know, my mom’s proud now.

Lindsey:                                   Well, she should be.

Mike:                                         Yeah, so it was kinda good. I mean the thing that, you know, if I want to communicate to those listening to the podcast, NYCF members or not, is that those crazy ideas, you know, those late night ideas, early morning ideas like if you think it’s a good idea, try kickin it up the chain. Email your congressional staffer, email your senator. Like if you think you have a good idea, like see if they can go up the chain

Speaker 2:                              I mean the best ideas definitely come from real life experience in the field and interaction with federal programs. We need that as Young Farmers Coalition to know what ideas need to be moved up to Congress. And frankly not everything needs to be in the farm bill. Right? A lot of the micro equip program, or excuse me, the micro loan program was piloted by USDA, by farm service agency, before it was put in the last farm bill. So there are things that can change, you know, just through a conversation with folks at USDA. We can make a lot of change by just as you said, like thinking about how this might be different or how it might be better and with the knowledge that indeed we can be quite powerful in this and really help to make those changes become reality.

Mike:                                         Yeah. And I think another big thing for me is like thinking about changes in programs and adjustments that aren’t super major but benefit, you know, your neighbors too, or even just benefit your neighbors. Because what I realized around here is if my neighbors are happy and healthy, that has a direct effect on what’s going on with me. I hope, hopefully we’ll access micro-equip. Um, you know, it’s my plan that if I don’t, that’s okay. I just hope that for a whole bunch of other people, that it benefits them.

Lindsey:                                   Well, we’re going to be fighting for it in the House version of the farm bill and the final conference version. Of course, if you know we don’t have a farm bill this year, we will look to your administrative changes or if it’s not put in the farm bill this year, I mean that, that won’t be the end of it. Uh, so thank you so much for your leadership with your chapter, with, with Four Corners and thanks for speaking to me today and man, I really hope that you guys have a good fall because I know you need it. I hope you’re going to be farming in 2019.

Mike:                                         Well, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity.

Lindsey:                                   All right, Mike, thanks so much.

 

Next week, the farm bill is back. Andrew is going to tell us all about what’s going on in conference committee as they try to get a farm bill done by the end of this month. Thank you to Mike Nolan for being on today’s show. This show can be found wherever you get your podcasts. If you like us, please take a second to both rate and review us on iTunes and tell somebody else about what you learned on the show today. Thanks to Radio Kingston. Thanks to the National Young Farmers Coalition, the whole team for being there, to Hannah Beal for editing and to you for listening. Thanks so much.

 

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