New York, NY (PRWEB) June 13, 2012
Calling upon the experiences of their ancestors, Texas farmers have used the lessons of the Dust Bowl to recover farmland from the most recent drought. An article in Business Week notes the major impact made by the dry land; hay was limited to feed cattle, moisture was no longer in the ground to promote green grass growth and cattle was not as productive. These economic stresses required some farmers to turn to different business practices and sell large amounts of assets to cover their debts. While many faced the decisions of having to make large sacrifices, they have kept their farms afloat. Jerry Cosgrove, of the Local Economies Project, applauds these local farmers, but is concerned about the future for growth with upcoming climate change.
One of the farmers that the article highlights is Linda Galayda, owner of an East Texas ranch. As a previous executive in New York City, Galayda was able to use her business acumen to discover hay resources and sell of large amounts of inadequate cattle. Although her cattle counts are much lower than they were before, she notes that green grass and increased levels have helped her ranch stay afloat.
Styrk Jersey Farms in Engle, Texas shared a similar story of distress with Business Week. While the farm could not survive by cattle alone, the business began to develop novelty cheese items to provide additional income. Taking advantage of rising organic trends, the farm gained permits to sell unpasteurized milk. These business decisions were vital to keeping the farm in existence, especially the customer loyalty that they built through that enterprise. Still, the Styrk family patiently waits for full healing.
Jerry Cosgrove observes these trends, and is especially impressed by the reactions these farmers had to keep their farms in business. As a supporter for local farms at the New World Foundation, he adds, “Farmers and ranchers fight the odds every day and are by nature survivors.” However, Galayda commented on her progress by concluding, “"I don't think anybody's back in a position yet to say this is over with."
Cosgrove agrees with her logic, stating that climate change may create even more difficult problems for local farmers and ranchers. He calls for more forward-thinking, pro-active efforts by the public and private sectors to act against this threat. He concludes, “I worry that climate change will make long odds nearly impossible in the high risk low return business of farming and ranching. Whether it’s terrible floods in the Northeast or drought in the Southwest, climate change is going to change the way we produce food – in this country, and across the globe.”
As Associate Director of the Local Economies Project, Jerry Cosgrove has contributed conservation and agricultural expertise to the New World Foundation. He works to boost small and local farms, which will not only improve national health but also maintain a successful overall economy. To conserve farmland, he works to develop sustainable and workable solutions, which is demonstrated by his professional career at the crossroads of agriculture and the environment within the Hudson Valley and across the Northeast region.