Lack of rain takes toll on crops

My husband and son operate a market farm selling fresh vegetables at a local Farmer’s Market and farm shares to Community Supported Agriculure subscribers. They work very hard, this year dedicating hours to keeping crops watered.

They look exhausted. When rain is in the forecast, we wait with bated breath, then cheer when it actually rains. We’ve become accustomed to hearing about drought across the Western United States, but this summer’s lack of rain is posing similar dangers to us: “Chautauqua, Erie, Cattaraugus under drought watch” (Aug. 1). Climate change knows no geographical bounds.

We see the excessive heat, drought, and wildfires that have been predicted by climate scientists for decades. And as the dry spell here lingers, all the farmers in our region feel it acutely.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes the largest investment the United States has ever made in addressing climate change, serves all of us. The bill includes hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits for renewable energy, clean transportation, and decarbonized buildings — all of which will reduce energy costs across the next decade.

Funding for parks, for cleaning up areas of legacy pollution, and for lower cost clean energy in rural communities are other benefits of this legislation. Agricultural areas such as ours will also benefit through the more than $20 billion to be invested in the strategies farmers and ranchers need to help mitigate climate change’s impacts on their livelihoods. Those funds will be used to transition toward sustainable practices such as optimizing fertilizer use and expanding cover crops.

As Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack has recently said, “It’s critical that Congress act quickly on this legislation.” All of us can do our part in getting that done by calling on Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to show our support.

Janey Wagner is a Fredonia resident.


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