US Drought 2011 Rivals the Dust Bowl

credit: The New York Times

25 Percent of the U.S. is suffering under a severe drought that some say will rival that of the ‘Dust Bowl’. The drought conditions began during 2010 and continue to worsen into the summer months of 2011.

The states that are affected the worst are Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Georgia, followed by parts of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

According to The New York Times, last month, the United States Department of Agriculture designated all 254 counties in Texas natural disaster areas, qualifying them for varying levels of federal relief. More than 30 percent of the state’s wheat fields might be lost, adding pressure to a crop in short supply globally.

“Even if weather patterns shift and relief-giving rain comes, losses will surely head past $3 billion in Texas alone, state agricultural officials said. ”

The most widely accepted reason for the severe drought is a weather phenomenon called ‘La Nina’ which has shut off the southern conduit of moisture. ‘La Nina’ is an abnormal cooling of waters in the Pacific Ocean.

The New York Times:
Economists say that adding up the effects of drought is far more complicated than, say, those of a hurricane or tornado, which destroy structures that have set values. With drought, a shattered wheat or corn crop is a loss to one farmer, and it has a specific price tag. But all those individual losses punch a hole in the food supply and drive prices up. That is good news for a farmer who manages to get a crop in. The final net costs down the line are thus dispersed, and mostly passed along.

That means grocery shoppers will feel the effects of the drought at the dinner table, where the cost of staples like meat and bread will most likely rise.

All this is further reason to plan ahead and assure yourself a supply of extra food storage. At the very least, you will have paid less for your food in the long run, all the while having a food ‘safety net’, just in case…


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