Farmers from North Dakota, Texas and California experience huge problems with droughts, problem for the overall US economy

Due to droughts, American farmers are forced to thin their crops and sell their cattle, which is pushing up food costs and contributing to the two-year-long economic crisis Americans have been experiencing.

According to a poll by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the production of cattle, dairy, wheat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts is in grave danger due to drought conditions.

Droughts have continued in the states of the Central Plains as far north as North Dakota, as far west as California, and as far south as Texas.

According to the AFBF, this virtually whole area is crucial to U.S. agriculture and accounts for approximately half of the nation’s $364 billion in agricultural output value.

“This includes 74% of beef cattle, responsible (in total) for 18% of U.S. agricultural production by value; 50% of dairy production, responsible (in total) for 11% of U.S. agricultural production by value, over 80% of wheat production by value and over 70% of vegetable, fruit and tree nut production by value,” the AFBA outlined.

However, farmers and ranchers are now compelled to take dramatic action.

The number of farmers forced to plow under their crops, remove fruit trees, and even sell their animals has increased significantly since last year.

“Those who reported tilling under crops because of drought conditions jumped from only 24% of respondents last year to 37% of respondents this year. Similarly, 33% of respondents reported destroying and removing orchard trees and other multiyear crops as prevalent or higher, up from only 17% last year,” the AFBF reported.

Across the region surveyed by the AFBF, respondents anticipated a 38 percent decline in average crop production this year. Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico are anticipated to have the greatest yield declines.

Have you observed rising food prices?

In the meanwhile, ranchers are forced to lower herd levels. Many of them did so last year and informed the AFBF that they would be doing so again this year.

“Of the surprising 67% of respondents who reported reducing herd sizes in 2021, nearly 50% were further reducing their herd or flock this year, 37% were maintaining the reduced herd size and only 14% were building their headcount back up,” the AFBF reported.

In addition to the 67 percent of ranchers who had to decrease herd levels last year, 76 percent also plowed their rangelands.

Despite the fact that ranchers have had to downsize herds and fallow land, many are still holding on to their properties.

The AFBF highlighted that as herds are reduced, “lower stocks of animals over an area that supports over 70% of domestic beef output by value reduces production and raises consumer prices.”

“For cattle and beef, once the market processes the excess animals sent to slaughter and has a smaller breeding herd to operate off of, [price increases] could be six months to well over a year. For specialty crops it could be immediate upon harvest,” said Daniel Munch, an economist at the AFBF, according to CNN.

While ranchers and farmers are the first to feel the effects of the drought, it will eventually touch every American as food prices increase. Even if the drought circumstances end, the situation will persist for at least two seasons.

“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, according to KMBC-TV.

Due to astronomically high inflation rates, food costs in the U.S. have already begun soaring.

“The [consumer price index] for all food increased 1.0 percent from May 2022 to June 2022, and food prices were 10.4 percent higher than in June 2021,” the Department of Agriculture reported in July.

The USDA forecasts that food prices will continue to increase throughout 2022 and into 2023.

According to the Heritage Foundation, these price hikes will negatively impact all Americans, but especially the poor.

“For lower-income Americans, this situation is particularly troubling. Skyrocketing food prices are regressive and particularly damaging to them, as they spend a greater share of their after-tax income on food compared with higher-income Americans,” Heritage pointed out.

“Their trade-offs might not just be giving up a night at the movies or not going out to dinner. It might be far worse, such as not going to the doctor or not running the air conditioning.”

While the rise in food costs due to inflation is nothing new, the fact that drought conditions are wreaking havoc on crops and livestock should cause all Americans to pay heed and prepare for the next years.

These challenges affect more than just farmers. This will continue to have an impact on all aspects of American life.

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