College News

Ag Instructor Vic Martin: Independence Day and Agriculture

Great Bend Tribune
Published July 1, 2023

The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, June 27 indicates a fairly situation in our area, extreme drought.  Overall, conditions are unchanged from last week, however, the exceptional drought areas in the state have shrunk a bit more.  And there are slivers in Barton and Rice Counties that have been improved to only extreme drought.  The western third of the state has seen the greatest improvement.  The six to ten-day outlook (July 4 to 8) indicates normal temperatures and a 33 to 50% chance of leaning to above normal precipitation.  The eight to fourteen-day outlook (July 6 to 12) indicates normal to a 33 to 40% chance of leaning to below normal temperatures and a 40 to 50% chance of above normal precipitation.  If this holds, drought conditions shouldn’t worsen and might even improve.  The are will have to see how the strengthening El Nino affects our summer and fall weather.

Independence Day is this Tuesday.  Wheat harvest really wasn’t all that much this year with the drought.  Summer row crops are in much better condition than a year ago at this time.  There are many reasons why our democracy has survived.  Leadership and sacrificing citizens combined with dedication and ingenuity.  But today let’s discuss another reason the United States has been independent for almost 250 years - agriculture.

  • Even before the expansion of our borders to the Pacific Ocean, our country had an abundance of excellent farmland, and other resources from timber to minerals, and a variety of climates.  This allowed for the production of a wide variety of crops and livestock.  Over time, the types of crops increased to what it is today.  This has allowed our country to be self-sufficient in food, fiber, and even fuel production.  Yes, depending on the time of year, you will find imported foodstuffs, however, while it’s great to have certain items all year round, we can feed ourselves without them.
  • What contributed to this abundance are the decisions made at the federal level.  The Ordinances of the Northwest Territories that help settle the traditional Midwest.  The Homestead Act the promoted settlement and agriculture in the Great Plains.  The establishment of the Land Grant University System to promote scientifically based agricultural production and provide a class of educated citizens for food production.
  •  Also important was the establishment of the Cooperative Extension Service to disseminate a broad based of knowledge for farm production and food handling among other things.  Combine that with the USDA and its various agencies like the FSA and NRCS, we are able to address challenges and promote resource conservation by aiding various segments of agriculture.  In the 1930s, to combat the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, and soil water erosion, the government instituted policies to insure farm production and conserve/improve natural resources.
  • Finally, state and federal levels of government developed a transportation system to move production quickly across the country.

Happy Fourth of July.