ANOTHER VOICE: Ag secretary: Farm forecast points to need or action

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement Nov. 27 about the 2012 farm income forecast from USDA’s Economic Research Service:

Tuesday’s forecast is heartening. It confirms that American farmers and ranchers remained impressively resilient in 2012, even with tough odds due to one of the worst droughts in more than a generation.

Thanks to its ability to remain competitive through thick and thin, U.S. agriculture is stronger today than at any time in our nation’s history, supporting and creating good-paying American jobs for millions.

While down slightly from the August forecast, Tuesday’s estimates for net farm income are the second-highest since the 1970s, while total farm household income is expected to rise.

At the same time, the positive trend of falling debt ratios continue. The forecast suggests that strong farm income should remain a positive factor in carrying farmers and ranchers into the 2013 growing season.

But as one season comes to an end and another lies on the horizon, we must continue to stand with America’s farming families and rural communities, providing help and assistance to those who need it. This year, the farm safety net showed its mettle and merit, helping to deliver peace of mind to thousands of farmers and ranchers dealing with losses caused by natural disasters.

It’s a reminder that Congress must do the same, and pass a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides greater certainty for farmers and ranchers in the season ahead. Providing the tools and certainty they need is the least we can do for those who grow our food, fiber, feed and fuel, even through the most challenging of times.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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