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
Farmers are worried about climate change but skeptical of carbon markets — survey
Farmers in the largest corn-growing state are increasingly concerned about the potential impact of climate change on their operations but also dubious of carbon markets that would pay them to sequester carbon in the soil, according to the annual Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll. Their skepticism stood in contrast to President Biden's goal of creating new sources of revenue for farmers while his administration pushes American agriculture to be the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases.
Book: Climate change and the looming crisis in U.S. food production
In his new book Perilous Bounty, Tom Philpott takes a deep look at perhaps the two most important farming regions in the country, California and the Midwest, and finds that both face what might be called an under-appreciated existential crisis. In California, recently engulfed in wildfires, the …
In harsh year, U.S. crop acreage shrinks 5 percent
The rainiest spring in a quarter-century slowed the planting season and helped limit U.S. farmers to their smallest crop area in five decades, said the government in assessing 2019 production. Early snowfall and icy autumn weather prevented growers from harvesting more than 600 million bushels of corn, and the USDA said it would update estimates of corn and soybean supplies, if warranted, "once producers are able to finish harvesting remaining acres."
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.