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Bouquets and brickbats for August

 It’s time for the Farm Press Semi-Annual Agricultural Bouquet/Brickbat Presentations.

Mother Nature gets one of each. According to the experts, the Texas cotton crop could approach a record 10 million bales thanks to favorable weather for the planting, growth and development of the dryland crop. How big is that Texas crop? If realized, it could be 82 percent of last year’s crop – last year’s entire U.S. crop that is.

But Mother Nature’s deadly heat, which has settled over a huge area from Texas to the Mid-South, is getting tough on farmers and plants in early August. The temperature as I write this is 104, the wind is still and humidity is around 50 percent. Only tough guys get out in this. Everything is melting. It’s so bad the ice cream man had to start selling slurpees.

A bouquet for the U.S. farmer. Not that he could really help this, but we had to say something. U.S. total farm production expenditures actually dropped from $307 billion in 2008 to $287.4 billion in 2009, according to USDA. Of course, a big reason for the drop was the huge increase in production costs from 2007 to 2008, especially for fuel. How significant is the drop? It is the first major decline in farm expenditures in 24 years.

A brickbat to Washington leadership. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced in August that the Senate will not consider energy legislation before the Senate adjourns this week for its August recess, meaning the Senate will not consider an energy package until at least September. Whatever happened to getting your work done before you go on vacation?

A congratulatory bouquet is in order for Matthew Turner, son of Dan Turner and the nephew of Barry Turner, who farm together in Mer Rouge, La.  Farm Press will officially announce in September that Matthew has taken home a top prize in the Future of Southern Agriculture student essay contest, sponsored by Farm Press and Syngenta Crop Protection.

Winning the award in the graduate category is a very special accomplishment, but Matthew has done it one better. In 2008, he was the grand prize winner in the undergraduate category of our contest. Matthew appears to be singlehandedly paying his way through college via winning our student essay contests. Good job, Matthew!

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