Agriculture

As drought-plagued western farmers plow under crops and sell livestock, Vermont “abnormally dry”

Updated information on Vermont drought location and and impacts at drought.gov

By Guy Page

More than a third of farmers in western states responsible for half of the nation’s agricultural production are tilling under crops due to persistent drought, an American Farm Bureau survey released August 14 said. Two-thirds of ranchers and livestock farmers in these states are selling off animals.

In Vermont, where July was the 46th driest in the 128 years rainfall records have been kept, the impact of the severe, two-year western drought is felt mostly in high food prices. However, this summer’s abnormally hot, dry weather is affecting Vermont farmers, too. 

82% of Vermont is “abnormally dry” by the National Drought Mitigation Center, leading to some stunted crops and delayed planting. This area includes all of ag-heavy Essex-Orleans counties and most of Addison County. However, Franklin County – the state’s other ag center – has more normal conditions, the NDMC says. 

The hardest-hit region of the state is southern Orange County and Northern Windsor County, which are in moderate drought, the NDMC says. During moderate drought, typically Irrigation use increases; hay and grain yields are lower than normal, and honey production declines.

But Vermont’s drought problems pale in comparison to the 17 western states profiled in the AFB survey report. 

The 17 states including and north of Texas, up along the Central Plains to North Dakota and west to California are vital to the U.S. agricultural sector, supporting nearly half of the nation’s $364 billion production by value, AFB said. 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. Drought conditions, which have persisted well into 2022, put production of these commodities at risk, along with the stability of farms, ranches and local economies reliant on crops, livestock and downstream products and services for income.

37% of respondents report plowing under crops

Seventy-four percent of respondents rated a reduction in harvest yields due to drought as prevalent or higher in their area, about the same as last year (72%). Forty-two percent of respondents rated the intention to switch planned crops for the growing season due to drought as prevalent or higher (up from 37% last year). Notably, 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. Producers who experienced significant water usage curtailments last year may have been able to hold on, but ongoing extreme conditions have compelled some of them to make the tough decision to till under or destroy multiyear crops this time around. 

Cabernet drinkers, take note…..

In one case, a California producer mentioned dropping all fruit on five acres of young Cabernet grapes to help them survive with zero applied water over the last two years, removing all revenue-generating potential for the current year. As expected, prevalence of orchard and multiyear crop removal remains most common in states with high fruit and tree nut crop production such as California and Arizona, where 50% and 40% of respondents, respectively, reported that factor as prevalent or higher. 

When drought reduces forage crops, ranchers can’t feed animals

Two-thirds of respondents reported prevalence of selling off portions of the herd or flock, with average herd sizes expected to be down 36% in the surveyed region, AFB reported. The largest herd decline is in Texas (herds reported down 50%), followed by New Mexico (down 43%) and Oregon (down 41%). Washington expected to have the smallest average herd size decline (down 14%). Insufficient and poor quality forage forces liquidations, which cut into operational income.

Categories: Agriculture

6 replies »

  1. It’s good thing climate change is a “chinese hoax”, or the entire US would look like death valley! /s

  2. Geoengineering, yes the climate is changing, but it’s not the little guy who is doing it. Brace yourselves for the planned food shortages that will likely hit in earnest this fall. “He who controls the weather will control the world” Lyndon B Johnson 1962 (no relation) and the elites haven’t been working on and implementing this since? Ya think?

  3. Sorry this smacks of BS!
    Here in the NEK we are dang near under water.
    What would be a wet year, I think I might ought to build an ARK. /s
    Same with temperature reporting, the weather service says it’s x in reality it’s usually x-10 to x-15 degrees.
    No matter how often something gets repeated it doesn’t get “true-er”.
    The red maples are already getting a bit of color so y’all better have you firewood in and your oil bought.

    Red

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