Midwest Flooding Preventing Farmers from Planting Their Crops, Threatens Food Prices

All across the midwest farmers are not able to begin planting their crops as persistent flooding has caused their fields to resemble shallow lakes. As Reuters explained, “Excessive rain has caused U.S. planting to fall seriously behind schedule. Farmers still had 116 million acres of combined corn and soybeans left to plant as of May 19, far more than they ever had on the date. The previous high was 91 million acres in 1995.” Farmers are faced with the tough choice of whether to plant their crops late and run the risk of losing them to an early frost, or to apply for an insurance payment for what’s called “prevented planting” and take a loss on the seeds they won’t be able to plant.

The Rains Just Keep Coming: As Illinois farmer Jimmy Ayers explained to Fox, rain-soaked fields are preventing planting but the crops that farmers did manage to plant are being starved of oxygen by the flood waters. Additionally, if the field gets wet after crops have been planed the soil can become very hard and form a crust which farmers see as dangerous to their plants.

The Projections: from USDA and Accuweather 

As the Wisconsin State Farmer reported, AccuWeather is predicting that “corn and soybean yields will fall below the USDA estimates for the season as wet weather persists throughout key corn- and soybean-producing states. The corn crop was projected at 15 billion bushels, up from last year’s crop of 14.3 billion bushels, according to the USDA. However, AccuWeather meteorologists estimate the 2019 corn crop will yield 14.2 billion bushels. Similarly, the USDA estimated the soybean crop to yield 4.15 billion bushels in a May 10 report, following a 2018 season that saw a record 4.54 billion bushels. AccuWeather, however, estimates the 2019 soybean crop will be 4.10 billion bushels.”

Higher Food Prices for the Rest of Us: As Common Dreams explained, “a lower yield of corn and soybeans is already jacking prices for the staple cereals up, which could lead to a ripple effect across the economy.”

Why This Matters: There’s evidence that the fierce storms the Midwest has faced this spring are directly related to climate change. Unless we act to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions this will ensure that these storm and flooding events occur more frequently and put our food supply in jeopardy. The United States recently experienced the wettest 12 months since record-keeping began in 1895 and it’s not a coincidence: we’re causing our planet’s climate to warm at an accelerated pace and are just beginning to experience the consequences.

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