Food Price Rise Tied to Climate, Energy

August 18, 2022

The price of natural gas is soaring, affecting the price of fertilizer.

CNN:


Nearly three quarters of US farmers say this year’s drought is hurting their harvest – with significant crop and income loss, according to a new survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, an insurance company and lobbying group that represents agricultural interests. 

This year’s drought conditions are taking a harder toll than last year’s, as 37% of farmers said they are plowing through and killing existing crops that won’t reach maturity because of dry conditions. That’s a jump from 24% last year, according to the survey.

July was the third-hottest on record for the US and ranked in the top 10 for every state in the West except for Montana, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. The US Department of Agriculture’s weekly weather and crop bulletin ending the week of August 6 reported “rapidly intensifying drought gripped the central and southern Plains and mid-South, depleting topsoil moisture and significantly stressing rangeland, pastures, and various summer crops.”

The AFBF estimates nearly 60% of West, South and Central Plains are experiencing severe drought or higher this year.

“The effects of this drought will be felt for years to come, not just by farmers and ranchers but also by consumers. Many farmers have had to make the devastating decision to sell off livestock they have spent years raising or destroy orchard trees that have grown for decades,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president.

The AFBF survey was conducted across 15 states from June 8 to July 20 in extreme drought regions from Texas to North Dakota to California, which makes up nearly half of the country’s agricultural production value. 

In California – a state with high fruit and nut tree crops – 50% of farmers in the state said they had to remove trees and multiyear crops due to drought, the survey revealed, which will affect future revenue. And 33% of all US farmers said they’ve had to do the same, nearly double the number from last year.

Farmers in Texas are being forced to sell off their cattle herds earlier than normal due to extreme drought – as water sources dry out and grass burns up. Farmers in the Lone Star state reported the largest reduction in herd size, down 50%, followed by New Mexico and Oregon at 43% and 41% respectively. 

“We haven’t had this kind of movement of cows to market in a decade, since 2011, which was our last really big drought,” said David Anderson, a professor of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M told CNN last month.

Access to water for livestock has been a key issue for farmers and ranchers this year, with 57% reporting local restrictions on water use, compared to 50% of farmers last year. Key water sources in places like Lake Mead and Lake Powell – which are running below 30% of their full capacity – typically provide water to 5.5 million acres of land in seven western states according to the AFBF.

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