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Holding the Media Accountable on Farming and Climate Change

State Rep. Chris Miller in front of his fields in Central Illinois

In a total switch of topics – because at Breakthrough Ideas we cover a myriad of issues – let’s talk about farming and the so-called “climate crisis.”

In this inaccurately titled piece from the Sun Times, Illinois farmers talk about drought, deluge and dealing with climate change, says nothing about CLIMATE CHANGE - nothing. The article is only there so people read the headline. The article instead covers mostly soil conservation techniques like cover crops and drainage ditches – something that has been happening for many years. But, it does open with an unsubstantiated claim, “Climate change is disrupting agriculture, a $19 billion-a-year industry that’s one of the state’s largest. And there’s growing recognition that agribusiness is likely contributing to the problems.” Then the article continues saying, “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, agricultural production is responsible for about 10% of global warming, much of that attributable to livestock. “ Says Who and with What Proof? The next line is simply a statement fact – “In Illinois, with its fertile, black soil created by glacial action, there are 72,000 farms on 27 million acres — three-quarters of the state’s land mass.”

Why didn’t they include this line taken from our own University of Illinois publication –

“In its monthly Wheat Outlook report this week, the USDA’s Economic Research Service indicated that, “Global wheat production is forecast at a record 800.2 million metric tons…

This included that “U.S. wheat production for the 2023/24 marketing year is forecast at 1,665 million bushels, up 6 million from the May estimate and less than 1 percent above the previous year.”

To be fair, there are drought conditions in Illinois. Again, Farm Policy News a publication of the University of Illinois reported in June,Wall Street Journal writer Shannon Najmabadi reported on Saturday that, “Were this a normal mid-June morning, farmer Gary Millershaski would be looking out at waist-high fields of golden wheat almost ready to be harvested.

“Instead, he’s standing on a patch of mud, plucking at thin stalks of wheat that poke less than a foot out of the ground.

The Journal article explained that, “Around a third of the winter wheat grown nationwide is expected to be abandoned because it is uneconomical to harvest it this year. It is the highest rate of abandonment since 1917, exceeding the rate of wheat abandoned during the 1930s Dust Bowl.

“There is enough winter wheat for domestic consumption, but volatile world market conditions have motivated U.S. mills to import wheat for flour, and the hit to U.S. farmers is acute. Abandoned fields will be left out for cattle to graze on, slashed and used as hay or killed with chemicals so farmers can collect on crop insurance and get new seeds into the ground.”

BUT, the bottom-line was this - admitted further in the article - global wheat production is currently forecast at a record high level.

Following my publication of the above in my newsletter, a reader, who runs a milling company, sent me the following note:

"Just read Breakthrough {sic} today. I can tell you definitively that IL harvested its best wheat crop ever- record yields, perfect quality, most bushels in many years! This is similar in most states east on the Mississippi. There were tough conditions in the midwestern states."

Glad to hear direct reports from people who actually know what's going on. That's what we aim to do at Breakthrough Ideas.


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