Summer’s drought has hit farmers and cattle ranchers hard, leaving them to destroy drying crops and orchard trees and sell off livestock, reports Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN Business. “Nearly three-quarters of U.S. farmers say this year’s drought is hurting their harvest-with significant crop and income loss, according to a new survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, a lobbying group that represents agricultural interests. . . . Thirty-seven percent of farmers said they are plowing through and killing existing crops that won’t reach maturity because of dry conditions.” According to the survey, that’s a jump from 24% last year.
Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, told Yurkevich, “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.” Yurkevich reports, “July was the third-hottest on record for the U.S., and ranked in the top 10 for every state in the West except for Montana, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.”
Cattle ranchers in states such as Texas face hurdles beyond drought-induced herd water shortages. “High inflation makes it harder for ranchers to salvage their land. The cost of diesel is falling but is still high, making it significantly more expensive to truck in additional water than in years past,” Yurkevich writes. “The price of fertilizer for grass and crops and feed for animals also remains expensive.” David Anderson, a professor of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M, told Yurkevich: “We haven’t had this kind of movement of cows to market in a decade, since 2011, which was our last really big drought.”
U.S. consumers will likely see across-the-board price increases for produce. “Fruits, nuts, and vegetables overwhelmingly come from states with high levels of drought,” Yurkevich adds. “But farmers have been forced to forgo planting or destroy orchards. This will ‘will likely result in American consumers paying more for these goods and either partially relying on foreign supplies or shrinking the diversity of items they buy at the store,’ the report states. . . . The Bureau of Labor Statistics’s August inflation report shows U.S. consumers are spending 9.3% more on fruits and vegetables from a year ago.”