extreme weather

California can do more to prepare for future floods, says think tank

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)

USDA says $3 billion available to offset 2022 disasters

Row crop and specialty crop growers are eligible for more than $3 billion from the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset losses from natural disasters in 2022, said the USDA. Administrator Zach Ducheneaux of the Farm Services Agency said 2022 "was another year of weather-related challenges — for some, the third consecutive year or more in a row."

Drought eases and growers plant more winter wheat

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.

USDA to compensate farmers for dumped milk

Dairy farmers who were forced to dump milk during a natural disaster are eligible for up to $250,000 in compensation from the new Milk Loss Program, said the USDA on Monday. The program covers losses in 2020, 2021, and 2022 from droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freezes, and smoke exposure.

As climate disasters worsen, researchers push for farmworker safety net

In the last few weeks, academics and labor advocates have released a flurry of studies and surveys with the same urgent finding: Climate disasters are wreaking havoc on the health, safety, and economic stability of farmworkers, and well-funded government programs are the best way to provide workers with relief. (No paywall)

USDA announces $4.3 billion smorgasbord of ag aid

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.

Climate change threatens large portion of U.S. cropland – report

Three of every 10 acres of U.S. corn and winter wheat are under increased threat as climate change boosts temperatures and makes rainfall more erratic in the Midwest and Plains, said new report on Tuesday. Commissioned by the American Farmland Trust, the report said the 2023 farm bill should embrace climate mitigation and provide the money to help farmers adapt to global warming.

California orange crop twice as large as Florida’s, says USDA

California, for decades the No. 2 grower, is roaring into the lead as the largest orange-producing state in the nation, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. It forecast an orange crop of 1.84 million tons in California this season, more than double Florida’s projected hurricane-damaged harvest of 720,000 tons.

Report: Wetter Midwest led to higher crop insurance payouts, not more cover crops

Rain, snow and sleet increased in almost all midwestern counties between 2001 and 2020. Along with that additional precipitation came increased federal crop insurance payments to farmers whose crops failed due to “excess moisture,” said a report Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group.

In Newsom’s long-term water strategy, ag makes a fleeting appearance

Faced with the worst drought in 1,200 years and a dwindling water supply, Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a new, long-term water strategy for California at a press conference on Thursday. His plan, he said, would prepare the state for a hotter, drier future.

Americans overwhelmingly connect climate change and extreme weather

A report from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication released Thursday shows that Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it’s not happening by a ratio of six to one (72 percent vs. 12 percent). Nearly the same percentage (70 percent) think climate change is tied to environmental problems such as extreme heat and wildfire. 

Producers receive $4 billion in ERP payments

In the six weeks since the USDA launched the program, farmers have received $4 billion from the Emergency Relief Program as compensation for losses from wildfire, drought, hurricanes, winter storms, and other natural disasters, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.

Global tally of acute food insecurity rises 26 percent

Around 193 million people in 53 countries and territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2021, an increase of 40 million from the previous year. “The situation is expected to worsen in 2022,” said a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises on Wednesday.

Deluge of rain won’t end California farmers’ water woes

After a near-record year of drought, California received some relief this week from torrential rains, the result of an atmospheric river hitting a bomb cyclone. The storms snuffed out the Dixie Fire, which has been burning in the northern Sierras since July, and put an end to Northern California’s grueling fire season. What the rains didn't do was end the drought — or the water restrictions faced by many of the state's farmers. (No paywall)

Congress approves $10 billion in disaster aid to agriculture

Farmers and ranchers would be eligible for $10 billion in disaster relief for losses in 2020 and this year under the short-term government funding bill passed by Congress on Thursday. The bill also extended the life of a livestock price-reporting bill until Dec. 3, giving lawmakers time to agree on a multiyear reauthorization.

Global hunger climbs 15 percent, at five-year high

Warfare, the pandemic, and extreme weather pushed an additional 20 million people into acute food insecurity in the past year, driving the worldwide total to 155 million, said the Global Network Against Food Crises on Wednesday. It was the highest total in five years.

Frigid weather hits meat plants, ports, citrus, and livestock

Snow and bitter cold damaged the citrus crop in Texas, slowed meat production in the Plains, and threatened to snarl grain exports through the Gulf of Mexico. Some traders have claimed force majeure because of ice and cold weather in Houston and New Orleans, reported AgriCensus

U.S. economy slows as corn and soy output soar, according to USDA projection

With a return to normal weather, farmers will expand vastly their corn and soybean plantings next year — enough to produce their largest corn crop ever and the fourth-largest soybean crop, according to USDA's agricultural projections. Bumper crops will drive down market prices in the near term and create huge stockpiles that will take years to whittle down.

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