Record heat, drought, and flooding sweeps US; food supply to take a hit

Thursday, July 14, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: food supply, extreme weather, health news

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(NaturalNews) The year 2011 is shaping up to be one of the most treacherous years in recent history, at least as far as the nation's weather patterns are concerned. While much of the Midwestern US continues to get drenched by record rainfall and torrential flooding, the Southern US is experiencing tremendous heat and drought conditions that, combined with flood conditions to the north, will have devastating effects on the nation's food supply.

Extreme heat threatens US agriculture

For several weeks now, extreme heat conditions have afflicted much of the Southern and Midwestern US. According to the National Weather Service, Heat Advisories and Excessive Heat Warnings have been issued in 17 different states, with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (F) in many areas, and heat indexes topping 115 degrees F (http://www.nottheexaminer.com/weather-in-jac...).

The 17 states under heat advisories or warnings include Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. And cities that have reached record highs include Oklahoma City, Okla., at 105 degrees F, Tulsa, Okla., at 107 degrees F, Medicine Lodge, Kan., at 111 degrees F, and Columbus, Miss., at a scorching 116 degrees F (http://www.nottheexaminer.com/weather-in-jac...).

Besides threatening human life, these extreme heat conditions have contributed to the widespread destruction of US food crops. Back in June, WATE in Knoxville, Tenn., reported that crop fields in the eastern part of the state were wilting from extreme heat conditions (http://www.wate.com/story/14899573/extreme-h...).

Similar crop failures have also taken place as a result of extreme heat in Alabama (http://www.whnt.com/news/whnt-heat-putting-c...), North Carolina (http://www.whnt.com/news/whnt-heat-putting-c...), and various other southern states as well.

And crops are not the only thing being harmed by the heat, either. Livestock across the Midwest and South are threatened by extremely hot and humid conditions that are either limiting production of their feed, or flat-out killing them.

"High temperatures, high humidity, low wind speed -- those are the three things that really create problems for cattle in confinement," said Todd Donner, spokesman for the Kansas Livestock Association, to The Kansas City Star in a recent interview. Both crops and livestock across the state face devastation as a result of such conditions.

"My biggest concern with the heat and wind is the fact we are already dry and our pastures need rain," added Ken Grecian, a Kansas rancher who has already had to cull back his herd by as much as 15 percent due to lack of adequate feeding grass, according to reports. "Our grass is less than half the growth we would normally expect due to the dry weather. I am concerned we are going to be running out of grass if we don't have precipitation out here in the next week or so" (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/06/29/2983727...).

Extreme drought threatens US agriculture

To make matters even worse, many of the areas being hit by scorching heat are also experiencing devastating drought conditions that have left land parched and unusable.

A recent report in The New York Times (NYT) explains that at least 14 US states, stretching from Florida all the way to Arizona, are experiencing Dust Bowl-type conditions. Some of the worst drought areas happen to be in Texas, which NaturalNews reported back in March was experiencing its worst drought situation in over 44 years.

Texas, of course, is the nation's largest cattle producer, and the second-largest producer of winter wheat (http://www.naturalnews.com/031853_Texas_drou...), and every single one of its 254 counties has been declared a "natural disaster area" as a result of extreme drought conditions.

"It's been horrible so far," said Mike Newberry, a Georgia farmer who grows cotton, corn, and peanuts, to the NYT concerning his crop failures. "There is no description for what we've been through since we started planting corn in March."

The same NYT piece explains that Oklahoma, which is hardly faring much better than Texas, is 72 percent short of its normal summer rainfall at this point in time. In other words, the state has only experienced a little over 25 percent of its normal rainfall, which in practical terms is utterly devastating the state's agriculture.

Extreme flooding threatens US agriculture

To top it all off, the extreme flood conditions that have devastated portions of many states along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers have also destroyed millions of acres of farmland in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and various other areas (http://www.naturalnews.com/032366_Mississipp...).

And the situation is only set to get worse as built-up snowpack in the northern Midwest and Canada continues to melt throughout the summer, increasing pressure on the levees and dams along the rivers (http://www.naturalnews.com/032870_Fort_Calho...).

This deadly combination of heat, drought, and flooding will eventually cause food prices to increase sharply as supply diminishes and demand increases. And despite the fact that the mainstream media is largely downplaying or ignoring the situation, its very real consequences will soon manifest themselves -- so now is the time to get prepared.

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