Crop damage from last year’s drought: What can be done to prevent future disasters?

By Catholic Rural Life on February 12, 2013

Crop damage from last year’s drought: What can be done to prevent future disasters?

 

The 2012 drought was the worst to hit the U.S. since the 1950s and it caused devastating crop damage.

You can see which states were hardest hit in an interactive graphic and online report posted Feb. 18 at Climate Central. (Climate Central provides research and reporting on the science and impacts of climate change.) About 80 percent of agricultural land experienced drought in 2012. Colorado was dealt the worst conditions: in July and August last year, 100 percent of the state was in severe drought.
The 2012 drought crippled corn production across the country, where average yield was 17 percent below normal. Kentucky was the hardest hit, where yield was 63 percent below recent years. Corn yields haven’t been this low since 1988, a year with another devastating drought.
Widespread drought in 2012 damaged much of the country’s soybeans crops. Nationally, average soybeans yields were 5 percent below recent yields and Kansas showed the most damage. Soybeans and corn are the main ingredients for livestock feedstuffs; consumers will eventually see higher prices for meats, poultry and other food items in the aftermath of a drought.
Senate Agriculture hearing on drought, future disasters
On Feb. 14, a U.S. Senate hearing was held to examine the toll weather disasters have taken on American agriculture – which employs 16 million Americans – and what steps can be taken to safeguard the economy from future catastrophes. You can download the testimonies of panelists, farmers and ranchers and watch a video of the 2.5 hour hearing at the Senate Agriculture Committee website.
For current levels of drought conditions, see the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The benefits of sustainable agriculture
When farmers build healthy soil, organic matter is increased – and that organic matter absorbs and holds water, which is especially critical during periods of drought. Improving the health of our nation’s soil also benefits the landscape, reduces nutrient loading and sediment runoff, increases efficiencies, and sustains wildlife habitat, all while providing the potential for increased production and cost-savings for producers.
The spring issue of our Catholic Rural Life magazine will also feature accounts from farmers about how their faith helped them got them through the season of drought and its after-effects. Do you have a story to tell? Or perhaps how the Church can do more to prepare us for more episodes of climatic disruptions. Please contact us: bob@ncrlc.com

 

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