Agricultural land values in the Midwest rose by an average of 5 percent during the past year, the smallest gain in three years, said ag bankers taking part in a Chicago Federal Reserve Bank survey. While Indiana notched a 16 percent increase, land values in Iowa were stagnant and one lender expressed surprise that land values did not decline in the Hawkeye State, said the Chicago Fed's quarterly AgLetter.
As Golden State farmers brace for another rainy winter, a new report is urging state officials to aggressively prepare for wet years as much as it prepares for dry ones. Climate change is expected to fuel both more extreme droughts and more winter storms. And while California has made progress in managing drought conditions, it has a long way to go in managing floods. (No paywall)
The MacArthur Foundation awarded “genius” grants this year to A. Park Williams, a hydroclimatologist who is developing a wildfire forecasting model after studying climate change and tree mortality, and Lucy Hutyra, an environmental ecologist whose studies show that conserving urban forest fragments helps mitigate local impacts of climate change.
Growers are expected to sow the largest amount of U.S. land to winter wheat in nine years, encouraged by strong market prices, in part a result of warfare in Ukraine, and forecasts of better growing conditions in the drought-hit central and southern Plains. Winter wheat accounts for roughly seven of every 10 bushels of wheat harvested in the nation.
It’s been a record-breaking year for hot, dry, windy (HDW) events in the Midwest, with Kansas — the nation’s largest winter wheat producer — hit worse than any other state. The events, in which all three conditions occur simultaneously for a prolonged period, inevitably lead to drought and lowered grain yields. (No paywall)
Drought covers large portions of the Midwest from Ohio to the Missouri River, said the weekly Drought Monitor on Thursday. Less than an inch of rain fell in eastern Nebraska during May, and half of Illinois was in drought, an increase of 20 points in one week.
Farmers and ranchers who suffered losses due to natural disasters ranging from drought to hurricanes last year will receive $3.7 billion in aid in coming months, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA also announced $500 million in additional funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and $103 million to defray marketing costs for organic dairy farmers this year.
Arizona’s water crisis is getting worse, and on Wednesday, environmental groups warned that there’s no “silver-bullet” solution that can fix it. In a new report by the Water for Arizona Coalition, analysts urge the state to embrace a diverse range of water conservation and management strategies — and to start investing in them fast. (No paywall)
Drought in Argentina and lackluster sales in the United States, two of the world’s major suppliers, will reduce global corn exports to their lowest volume in three years, said USDA analysts on Wednesday. Shipments from another leading source, Ukraine, were in question because an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative past March 18 has not been resolved.
The Interior Department will provide $125 million for a program that compensates water users, including farmers, on the Upper Colorado River who voluntarily conserve water. The money for the System Conservation Pilot Program was part of $728 million announced by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Monday for Western water projects.
Battered by drought and rising costs, U.S. cotton growers will devote more of their land to corn, wheat and soybeans — crops that promise higher revenue this year — while sharply reducing their cotton plantings, said a survey released on Sunday. The National Cotton Council said its survey of growers indicated 11.4 million acres will be planted to cotton this spring, 17 percent less than last year.
The government could save more than $2 billion a year if it replaced the public-private partnership of the crop insurance program with simpler and more tightly targeted disaster programs, said two agricultural economists. In an analysis for the American Enterprise Institute, Eric Belasco and Vincent Smith said a template for the less expensive program was the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (PRF) insurance product offered by USDA.
In a report released Wednesday, Food & Water Watch found that agricultural corporations have used California's outdated water rights system to their advantage and expanded their most water-intensive operations, even as some rural communities have run out of water completely. (No paywall)
For decades, the Westlands Water District in California — the largest district in the nation — has led the fight against environmental rules that restrict the flow of water from California’s rivers to its farmers. It sued the government, lobbied friendly politicians and took on critics wherever …
As the water crisis in California’s Central Valley intensifies, farmers are fallowing fields, slashing jobs and hemorrhaging money. But according to a study released this week, some rural towns might be better off abandoning agriculture entirely and repurposing farmland to create better-paying jobs, ease water usage, decrease pollution and preserve landowners’ revenue streams.
Abnormally high feed costs, partly the result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are ruining organic livestock producers and federal relief payments are vital to keep farmers in business, said organic trade groups and businesses. "A perfect storm of trade disruptions, international conflicts and acute drought conditions has created a situation no farmer could have planned for or foreseen," said the 13 groups in a letter to lawmakers released on Monday.
The drought-hit U.S. cotton crop is slightly larger than previously thought, at 14 million bales, but exports are stagnant for this marketing year, said the USDA on Thursday. The monthly WASDE report said cotton production was down worldwide.
Drought deepened during “quite the dry week” in the High Plains, said the Drought Monitor on Thursday. “Flash drought conditions are impacting the region, especially in the Dakotas, where warm, dry, and windy conditions have provided ideal harvest conditions but have started taking a toll.”
Only 28 percent of the U.S. winter wheat crop is in good or excellent condition, one of the worst starts for the crop in years, said the USDA's Crop Progress report on Monday. Three-quarters of winter wheat land is in drought, including nine of every 10 acres in Kansas, the top wheat producing state.