More than anything else, the Summer of 2012 will be remembered for one thing: the heat. With record setting temperatures and a lack of precipitation, 55% of the United States experienced moderate to severe drought in June and July. June 2012 actually ranks as the third driest month in 188 years! The drought has crippled the heartland of America, and has cause wide-reaching changes to life in this country. Here is how a drought impacts farming in America:
- 88% of corn, 87% of soybean growing land under drought conditions
- in 7 states, more than 50% of corn is in “poor” or “very poor” condition
- Only 31% of American corn in “good to excellent” condition; 66% at this time last year
- Corn and soybean prices driven higher
The Summer of 2012 is already being compared to the Summer of 1988, when a drought caused a loss of over 40 billion dollars for farmers. Farmers are losing significant portions of their crops and land due to the lack of precipitation, and the crops they are producing are of inferior quality. The heat and drought affect crop farmers, which in turn impacts meat and dairy farmers.
- 54% of pasture in “poor” or “very poor” condition
- Increased price of feed results in farmers having to sell animals
- Livestock eating less dry food leads to an inferior product
- Price of feed goes up, price of cow goes down
Traditionally, if one region is heavily impacted by drought, farmers can sell animals and it will not change the national price of meat. However, because of the widespread droughts of this summer, the price of meat is expected to rise well after summer is over. The effects from this drought will likely be felt for the next few seasons as farmers attempt to reestablish their herds and usable pasture.
- Increased price of meat and crops with lower quality
- Public water supplies hitting dangerous levels
- Forrest fires/ Decreasing levels of wildlife
- Could lead to massive power outages
The drought is already responsible for the wildfires in Colorado and the heartlands earlier this summer, and continues to be a health threat. A poll conducted last month during the height of the heat has revealed that up to 70% of Americans believe in climate change, a number that is likely bolstered by the heat. The longer the drought continues also brings greater challenges to overcome, such as the closing of power plants due to lack of supplies or even a drop to the nation’s GDP. In addition, the intense heat and lack of moisture causes health problems and forces people to stay inside.
In Massachusetts, the drought doesn’t directly affect us in the same way as the areas impacted, but there are still ways that you can conserve water and practice responsible water use.
- Eliminate excess water usage
- Don’t pour water down the drain; use it for something
- Collect rain water for your garden
- Make sure your faucets and pipes don’t leak
The drought of 2012 has already drawn comparisons to the Dust Bowl droughts of the 1930’s. The reality is that the drought is going to affect Americans for months and maybe years to come. We need to move, as a nation, to relieve farmers and protect against this type of natural disaster as best we can. Water is our most precious resource, and we are seeing first hand how a lack of usable water impacts everyone in America.
- Drought likely to rank among worst (toledoblade.com)