American Farmers May Face Billions in Losses Due to Dry Weather Conditions: Report

by Jonathan Howard
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This year many farmers are fighting against dry weather. More than half of the United States has been affected by some level of drought. Even in places that are getting precipitation, it’s too wet and too cold to do much of anything. So, as the summer approaches and April continues to deliver strange weather to the states, folks should be ready for increasing prices, again.

Too Dry, Too Cold

  • A recent feature from Forbes highlighted the issue that farmers are facing with dry weather
  • The western half of the country has been affected the most by the droughts and are historically bad
  • Meanwhile, other states that have not been in drought are getting too much weather and cold temperatures
  • Large-scale farmers, as well as backyard gardeners, are worried about getting plants in the soil

There has been a lot of said about rising prices, supply chains, and other parts of the economy being hit by COVID delays, worker shortages, and more. However, the coming summer and the months following could prove to be very bad when it comes to agricultural products on the market. A Forbes report showed how dire the situation is in the western half of the country.

Wheat prices are already expected to rise due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. However, experts are expecting other food prices to shoot up as well. Soybeans are at their highest price in a decade. There are prices on avocados that haven’t been seen since the 90s. Right now, as planting season is delayed across most of the country, corn prices are reaching all-time highs as well.

The executive director of California Farm Water Coalition, a non-profit educational organization, warns consumers will see prices rise. “Consumers will see higher prices and fewer choices, or imported replacements,” Mike Wade explained. “The first decision point is whether or not they [farmers] have water. Many farmers are getting a zero allocation this year. They’re making decisions on whether they can find water to pump.”

Farmers Fight ‘Most Extensive and Intensive’ Dry Weather in Years

For the last 22 years, the U.S. Drought Monitor has been keeping track of droughts across the country. Tracking how long, how intense, and how dire the situations are wherever they may occur. The problem with the West’s drought is the “most extensive and intense” in the history of the Drought Monitor.

Some farmers that have enough land to do so, are trying other methods. Conserving water for high-value crops like almonds or pistachios, some farmers try out “hopscotch farming”. Curt Covington, an agricultural financial lender, talked about the method with Forbes.

“Out West, you’ll have hopscotch farming where you may own a swath of land,” he explained. “Some of those acres will be taken out of production. The water from those properties allocated for the crops that were there will be used to irrigate the higher-valued crops.”

With the drought being so severe, farmers might lose out on more than $1.1 billion and roughly 14,000 jobs. California has struggled with drought for years and now it’s almost at a breaking point. An associate professor at the University of California-Merced put it simply and bluntly.

“We’re managing water for extremes now,” Josue Medellin-Azuara said. “Climate extremes have become the new normal. Agriculture has to either idle land or switch crops.”

The Midwest is Wet and Cold So Far this Spring

The West is dealing with dry heat and drought. Meanwhile, farmers in the Midwest aren’t worried about dry weather, they just need the ground to dry up. And, in many cases, warm-up. Reports have come out from local news stations of farmers in Illinois and Michigan fighting conditions. Greenhouses are expensive to keep running. That cuts into profits. Raises prices to the consumer.

For one county in Illinois, by this time of year, they usually have planted 10 to 15% of their total corn crops. However, Adams County has only planted 2%.

Meanwhile, backyard gardeners like this Outsider writer, have been waiting to get gardens plowed and sprouts in the ground. The state of Kentucky has been wet and cold for the most part after a false early spring season. Now, everyone will just wait for Mother Nature to break one way or another.

Outsider.com