Published on April 4th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan4
Texas’ Worst Drought in 44 Years Driving Food Prices Up
In January, February, and March, I discussed the link between climate change and rising food prices. Well, there was big news out of Texas recently bringing us back to that topic yet again. Texas is experiencing its worst drought in 44 years and it is damaging the state’s wheat crop. This is driving up the price of wheat and meat (ranchers have had to reduce the size of their herds).
Texas, the biggest U.S. cattle producer and second-largest winter-wheat grower, got just 4.7 inches (12 centimeters) of rain on average in the five months through February, the least for the period since 1967, State Climatologist John Nielsen- Gammon said. More than half the wheat fields and pastures were rated in poor or very poor condition on March 20.
Drought May Extend Beyond Texas
The excessively dry conditions may extend into Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado as well, threatening their wheat crop and the U.S. economy as a whole. The U.S. is currently the world leader when it comes to wheat exports.
Extreme Weather Around the Globe in Past Year & Wheat
Wheat futures have already risen 50% in the past year due to the considerable droughts and fire in Russia and tremendous floods in Australia. Extremes on both ends… who would’ve guessed it (other than climate scientists and those who listen to them)?
Drought, Climate Change, and Food Prices
Yes, you can’t attribute any specific weather phenomenon to climate change. You just can’t do so, technically. But weather extremes and widespread drought, in particular, are specific predictions of climate scientists and this fits in perfectly to what they’ve been warning us about for years. The Southwestern U.S. is looking especially vulnerable (see: American Southwest Heading for Permanent Drought).
So, while this drought in Texas may seem extreme, it is probably just a sign of things to come and will be normal sooner or later if we don’t curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Unfortunately, countering climate change is a lot harder than preventing it. Take a look at this quote from a Texas farmer for a little more on that:
“We’re probably already seeing some damage, but in the next couple of weeks, we’ll surely go downhill major if we don’t get some rain,” said David Cleavinger, who is irrigating 75 percent of his 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of wheat in Wildorado, Texas. “With the prices we’re seeing, we’re trying to hold on, but there’s nothing that takes the place of a rainstorm.”
Well, there’s basically one thing to do to address this problem — tackle climate change.
For more on recent precipitation Texas, Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma; crop yields; cattle issues; and meat prices, check out Bloomberg’s coverage of this story: Worst Texas Drought in 44 Years Damaging Wheat Crop, Reducing Cattle Herds.
h/t Planet Green
Images of drought-stricken Texas via Whatknot and KM&G-Morris, respectively.
Map Credit: National Science Foundation via Planetsave
Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!