EDITORIAL: Wishing farmers a bountiful harvest


As storm clouds rolled over the area and temperatures dropped this week, some of us lamented the sudden end to summertime while others happily welcomed the early arrival of autumnal days.

But few watched the change in weather more closely than local farmers.

At the height of harvest season, rain slowed farmers’ plans and in many cases, halted them altogether.

While growers returned to the fields on Monday, another storm is bringing more rain and even the possibility of snow for some areas on Friday.

For farmers, it means more waiting and praying for sunny, clear skies. We join them in hoping for better weather that will lead to a successful harvest.

From the time the ground is tilled to when the last crops are harvested in the fall, farmers know all too well what it is to be at the mercy of the Wyoming weather.

Last year’s sugar beet crop was devastated by fall rains and freezing temperatures, resulting in an economic disaster declaration. It’s an unwelcome reminder that harsh conditions and cold temperatures can destroy months’ worth of work in the fields. Last month, the Wyoming Business Council approved up to $5.4 million in loans for Western Sugar growers in Park and Big Horn counties.

As growers put in long hours to complete the harvest in coming weeks, we want to take a moment to recognize their hard work.

At its core, Powell is an agricultural community. Early homesteaders brought life to this once barren landscape a century ago; today, agriculture remains crucial not only to the local economy, but to the life of our community and state.

Gov. Matt Mead has called ag “a cornerstone of Wyoming’s financial stability.” Wyoming has more than 11,000 farms and ranches, amounting to $1.6 billion in annual income, according to the governor’s office.

Agriculture “continues to provide a wealth of benefits to our state, citizens and nation — food for the table, open spaces, wildlife habitat, a pleasant Western style of living and much more,” Mead wrote in his annual Ag Day message.

While Ag Day is celebrated in the spring, it’s important to thank farmers and ranchers for their work and dedication throughout the year, and especially at harvest time.

The weather may not cooperate, prices fluctuate, the work is challenging and the days are long. But farmers persevere — come rain, shine or snow.