Food How You Can Help Farmers Suffering From Wildfires Right Now
Dairy Farmers Dumping Milk Worldwide Are On the Brink of Crisis
The world’s dairy farmers are facing an existential crisis. They’ve dumped millions of gallons of milk, slowed output and sold off older cows. Global governments stepped in with stimulus cash that provided some much-needed temporary relief, helping benchmark Chicago milk futures to almost double in two months. But once the aid money starts to dry up, many producers will confront tough choices again: suffer through losses, or pack it all in and shut the farm.It’s going to be a long time before restaurants go back to serving buttery, cheesy dishes on the scale they did in the pre-pandemic world.
California, Oregon and Washington are all suffering fromthis year. Over in 2020 in California alone, while it took just one week this month to decimate in Oregon and in Washington, leaving a trail of devastation and loss of life.
With the land ablaze around them, farms in the West Coast region have been struggling ― including in the agricultural powerhouse of California, whichthat Americans consume.
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Including our favorite farm stands, CSAs, dairies, pick-your-own-fruit orchards, and agritourisms. What exactly that looks like is personal. For me, the answer has always been the closest farm I can find, most likely because I grew up on one, picking tomatoes, making maple syrup, and mucking out barns in New York’s Hudson Valley, a place that seems to fall in and out of fashion without ever really changing all that much, at least in terms of the landscapes, both natural and man-made.
We spoke to West Coast farmers to learn how they are dealing with the crisis and to find out what you can do to help these farmers, who produce the food we eat each day.Diggin’ Roots Farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley." alt="Farmer Conner Voss wears a mask at in Oregon's Willamette Valley." />
How farmers have been managing amid wildfires
Plenty of Americans have shifted where they do their job since the pandemic began, but farmers don’t have that luxury, whether they’re facing a virus or a wildfire.
“Farming continues even with COVID, smoke or whatever’s going on,” said Barb Iverson, who co-owns Woodburn, Oregon’sand is president of the Oregon Farm Bureau. “The plants keep growing, the livestock still need to be fed. You have to get out and deal with what’s going on and make the best of it.”
The Best Farms in Every State
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Exactly how many farms have been harmed by the wildfires is unknown at this time.
“We’ve been trying to improve how we track impacted farms,” said Kelly Damewood, the CEO of(CCOF), a nonprofit that advocates for organic agriculture and is a USDA-accredited organic certification agency. “Right now, we know of 21 that have been impacted. The majority of them have had to evacuate and/or have lost structures like water tanks, barns or even their homes.”
Even if a farm hasn’t been destroyed by fire, there can be significant consequences from the weeks of burning.
“The smoke and ash have been fairly oppressive,” Iverson said. “The only thing I can liken it to is when Mount St. Helens erupted in the ’80s ― we got ash fall from that. The ash has been pretty bad on a number of the crops.”
Crops covered in ash don’t necessarily all have to be discarded; ashy produceif washed properly. Smoke has been known to .
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Smoky conditions can also make it difficult for farmworkers. “The air quality has been hard on employees,” Iverson said. “We’ve hovered around 500 on, and 150 is the max [value] you want anyone out in. We haven’t had employees come out in the last week just because the air quality has been so poor.” Diggin’ Roots Farm in Oregon during the wildfires in September." alt="Cattle graze at in Oregon during the wildfires in September." />
In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Sarah Brown and her husband Conner Voss founded the 48-acre. Brown, who is also the director of education and advocacy at the organic farming nonprofit , and her children evacuated in the first week of September. Her husband remained at the farm.
According to Brown, he’s been quite busy, watering down their pasture to prevent the farm from catching on fire, moving a litter of newborn piglets and a sow to a safer area, and bringing in what Brown said was the largest harvest of the year. To top it all off, Voss joined with a number of community members and fellow farmers to help put out the, which got within a mile of their farm.
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India’s 1.3 billion people only have access to about 4% of the world’s water. As global temperatures rise, the threat to lives and businesses is projected to grow.Now on six acres he’s cultivating pearl millet, cow peas, bottle gourd and corn — crops that consume about 80% less water than rice, and also use less labor, fertilizer and electricity. While a water conservation program pays him 7,000 ($93) rupees per acre to plant them, it’s still a gamble: Unlike rice, which the government always buys at a set price, these crops have no guaranteed market.
What you can do to help
Natural disasters may unfold on a scale that’s unfathomable, but there are concrete things you can do to help vulnerable farmers.
For those looking to aid organic farmers specifically, the CCOF said it’s giving away 100% of what it collects for its. “Our fund to help farmers through the tough times has received record applications ― about four times what we normally see,” Damewood said. (If you give through the website, send an email to to note that your donation is for the fund specifically.)
An individualhas been set up for the in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which Brown said was hit hard.
If you live in an affected area and want to help out locally,or buying produce from a farmers market is always a good option. Even if a local farm has closed up its community-supported agriculture program for the season, you can still offer support.
“Consider preordering!” Damewood said. “See if a farmer in your area is taking orders now for next year. Winegrowers have been impacted, as the Sonoma region continually gets hit. Can you join a wine club and provide a revenue source for them? Try to shop regionally and locally to help the smaller farmers operating on smaller margins.”
How will America’s state parks survive 2020?
In an unprecedented year of pandemic and natural disasters, cash-strapped state parks now face funding cutbacks.This year’s wildfires burned through California’s Big Basin Redwoods State Park in August. Most of the iconic redwoods survived, but historic structures in the park were destroyed.
And while slowing down the climate change that makes wildfires more frequent and deadly isn’t quite as easy as opening your wallet for a farmer, there is no better time to get active on that front.
“The science is clear that,” Brown said. “I read that , which is why we’re seeing these extremes.”
Damewood noted that the choices you make at the dinner table can support American farmers and mitigate climate change.
“Our food system deeply impacts every part of our environment, from air and water quality to the types of chemicals that are used and put into the [world],” she said. “American families should understand thatThis article originally appeared on .” .
Wildfires Have Devastated California's Wine Country Even As Firefighters Managed to Contain 2 of the Largest Blazes .
The SCU and LNU lightning Complex Fires in California were 100 percent contained as of Thursday as firefighters are still batting raging blazes in the north as high heat and strong winds threaten to make their jobs harder. © SAMUEL CORUM/Getty Smoke from the Glass Fire hangs heavy over a vineyard outside of Calistoga in Napa Valley, California on September 30, 2020. The SCU and LNU lightning Complex Fires were 100 percent contained as of Thursday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE.