American Farmers in the Midwest Face Serious Struggles Amid Relentless Drought

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Western half of the country has endured a relentless drought for the last two decades, with one of the most prominent consequences rapidly intensifying wildfires that absolutely scorch the region annually. However, ongoing drought conditions are also taking their toll on American farmers, especially in the Midwest as rainfall remains practically nonexistent.

According to Yahoo! News, months without rain have completely crippled the Midwest, which makes up for a significant portion of the country’s “breadbasket.” For many farmers, drought conditions have heavily impacted overall yields, with relentless sunshine and a complete lack of rain leaving many fields across the Midwest too damaged to harvest. Rachel Tucker, a farmer at Tucker Farms in Venango, Nebraska, provided insight into the severity of the drought.

Altogether, Tucker Farms covers a vast 4,000 acres, however, per Tucker’s account, they “were only able to harvest…around 500” acres.

For Tucker, and many other farmers across the Midwest, drought conditions haven’t rendered harvests this poor since 2012. However, the Nebraska farmer claimed conditions now are even worse than they were a decade ago. “Much worse,” she said.

Dust Bowl Era Farmers Reveal the Severity of Midwest’s Drought Conditions

Per the outlet, drought conditions across the American Midwest have severely affected output of the country’s three major crops, including wheat, corn, and soybeans. And while that fact has forced the US Department of Agriculture to lower output predictions nationwide for the year, experienced Dust Bowl-era farmers have revealed the true severity of the situation.

Marc Ramsey, another farmer, comes from a family who’s been working land near Scott City, Kansas for nearly a century. He spoke about the harsh realities of the current drought with some elder farmers. And they’re take on the Midwest’s environmental crisis is truly scary.

“I was catching up with some older farmers,” Ramsey said, “Guys that are in their 70s and 80s.”

He continued, “they haven’t even experienced anything like this in their lifetime. So it’s pretty bad.”

Ongoing Dry Spell Has Left Irrigation Ditches Empty

Rain is an extremely important factor in farming, however, in occasional times of hardship, some farmers have the ability to depend on irrigation. Both Tucker and Ramsey have fields on their property maintained using this method. And while they’re doing significantly better than the rest of the farmers’ fields, they’re still not producing their regular amount of crops.

In speaking with the outlet, Ramsey revealed that even his irrigated fields, which make up 30% of his land, are struggling. Currently, he’s yielding 80 bushels of corn per acre in the irrigated fields which is still less than half of the farmer’s usual rate.

Other farmers across the Midwest, however, are faring even worse amid the drought. Rex Buchanan, director emeritus of the Kansas Geological Survey, said some farmers “have really struggled,” with high levels of stored water usage rapidly depleting aquifers across the state’s western region. In fact, some farmers “have seen some wells go dry. They’ve had to return to dryland farming,” which is incredibly risky, especially as Midwestern drought conditions ensue.