In recent years, the idea of global warming has evolved from a political debate to a general acceptance that climate change is real and it's causing more violent weather and wild extremes in temperature.
It serves no purpose to live in fear but there are common sense signs that suggests the weather is impacting our food supply.
The USDA makes annual forecasts of our nation's corn crop each year. It's instructive to review recent corn yields since a majority of our diet contains corn in one form or another. Did you know that corn production in America has fallen below normal for several years? Take a look at this graph from "NASS," The National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The 2012 crop averaged only 123.4 bushels to the acre, which was almost one-quarter below USDA projections. This year, the USDA is projecting another record crop while half of the country remains in a severe drought.
This U.S. drought monitor map is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.The map hasn't changed much for several years. Basically every state west of the Mississippi River except Washington state is experiencing drought. See the map.
At the same time, we are eating our way through our cattle herds as ranchers scale back herd size due to drought. This year's calf crop will be the lowest since 1949 and the annual calf crop has been declining since 1995. Cows and replacement heifers are at the lowest numbers since 1941. This USDA report has the details.
None of this is good news. I'm not an alarmist and I'm not here to forecast a famine because these trends can be altered by a few "normal" years. What America needs is a normal year but not the new abnormal of the past several years.
My mom and dad farmed the blackland hills east of Austin, Texas, for 62 years and during that time, they experienced drought, floods, insect plagues, hail storms, hurricanes and two devastating tornadoes. They got through it all with the hope that "things will get better next year."
The weather trends of the past several years have reinforced something that every farmer knows, "There is really no such thing as a normal year."
We should all hope that 2013 morphs into that elusive "normal" year because America really needs it!
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