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Thread: Climate Change And Agriculture

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    Lightbulb Climate Change And Agriculture

    MINOT, ND -- For the past four decade, in the bitterly cold months of late Fall to early Spring, Bob Everson, could be seen tending to his fields.

    "Oh ya, Bobby has been at this his whole life," noted Marge Williams, owner of a popular local diner. "Hasn't mattered how cold it was, he was always out there making sure his crops were growing."

    Rarely ever mentioned when discussing America's agricultural industry, the frozen vegetable market represents a small, but respectable slice of the agricultural pie, about 19% for tonnage and 15% for market value.

    Fields of frozen corn, peas, carrots, broccoli spread out for as far as the eye can see for many years.

    "My grandfather farmed frozen vegetables," noted Bob Everson. "My father farmed frozen vegetables. And I picked up about when my grandfather retired."

    But the climate was different for his grandfather and father. Winters were dependably cold. "Oh sure, there was always the occasional thaw that occurs for a couple of days back then," remarked Bob Everson. "But, you'd just cover everything up with insulated blankets to keep the vegetables cold."

    Those days were always a rush, he noted, but they were prepared and knew what to do.

    Today, however, thaws are much more common. Everson wasn't able to get his seeds planted until later in the year. Frozen corn needs to be planted by early December, or it won't reach maturity. Making matters worse, with the constant freeze/thaw in the Fall months, the ground becomes softer, making it much more difficult to get equipment across. Once the ground remains hard enough, it is sometimes too late to plant a crop.

    "Our frozen brussel sprouts didn't even get planted this year. November was just too mild. We have tried to adapt, but the weather is simply becoming too unreliable."

    When asked about those who question whether climate change is real or not, Everson smiles and then laughs. "Yeah, you tell my buddies up in Alaska dealing with this changing climate and trying to grow their frozen strawberries or blueberries. You used to be able to count on continuously cold weather up there, now days, entire crops can be thawed into mush. Those frozen mangoes are very susceptible to warming temperatures as they hang up above in the trees."

    2017 and 2018 saw the lowest yields for frozen fruit in Alaska on record. 2019 improved, but 2020 again has seen weather make things difficult. North Dakota has been a victim to similar conditions.

    Bob Everson's farm is insured, which helps "pay the bills", but for a man that likes to get his hands frozen near to the point of frostbite, tilling rock hard ground, and reaping the icy fields, there is little reward. "I'm a worker, not a collector. And I'm not certain how much longer we can risk these seasons." Insurance rates are doubling to quadrupling due to the constant payouts to farmers. Unlike farming in the summer, where isolated areas can be inundated by floodwaters, thawing temperatures cover a wider area, putting a much larger square footage of crops at risk.

    Everson doesn't know what the future holds. He indicated that 2021 was a sure thing, but after that, if he doesn't get a good cold winter, he might have to end a family tradition and farm in the spring and summer like most other farmers. But he just wasn't sold on that either. "I have no idea what I'd do with myself during the winter. The Fighting Hawks only play so many games."

    Long term forecasts indicate that temperatures in the North Dakota region will likely remain average. But long term forecasts are not as accurate in predicting short-term warming spells which put the frozen crops at risk. As the climate continues to change, people like Bob Everson will need to adapt with it, but such adaption comes with sacrifice and disappointments.

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    You trying out for a staff writing position on The Onion?

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    I don't think I've ever seen an opening for The Onion writing staff.

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    Loony Running The Asylum ZiprHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Higgins View Post
    I don't think I've ever seen an opening for The Onion writing staff.
    I suggest creating your own Onion type web site. Your stuff is good and could be monetized.
    When conservatives realize they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will abandon democracy.

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    Content Thief Elixir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZiprHead View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Higgins View Post
    I don't think I've ever seen an opening for The Onion writing staff.
    I suggest creating your own Onion type web site. Your stuff is good and could be monetized.
    Clarence Birdseye's family would probably sue him for that one though. They're a litigious bunch.

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