Ten Facts About The Drought
The drought currently affecting the United States is one of the worst in history. Many people don’t realize the severity of the situation. It effects the country’s economy and things as simple as food prices. The water level in the Mississippi is one of the lowest in over 20 years.
65% of cattle production is currently being affected by the drought.
As a result of so much of the land utilized for cattle production being affected by the drought conditions, beef prices have been steadily rises all summer. When drought conditions are present farmers must spend more money to maintain their cattle and also have a more difficult time meeting demand.
40 of the 50 states have counties currently designated as drought zones.
All but ten states in the country currently have counties that are considered to be drought zones. States in the Midwest are the ones that are being affected the worst. The Pacific coast and the East coast are the two areas that haven’t been severely affected by the drought conditions present in the rest of the country.
July 2012 was the hottest July since temperatures started being tracked.
Historical temperatures were first tracked in the United States in 1895. This July set a record for being the hottest July since these records first started being kept. Nearly every state in the nation broke average temperature records for July.
63% of the land in the contiguous United States is being affected by the drought.
Nearly two-thirds of the land in the contiguous United States is currently considered a drought zone. This percentage is starting to approach Dust Bowl levels.
Each acre of corn fields is only producing 123.4 bushels, the lowest value in over 10 years.
The farming efficiency of each acre of land is at its lowest point since 1995. Despite modern innovations in agriculture, they have not been able to offset the affects of the drought.
There was a 30% increase in the area being affected by drought conditions this year.
Compared to last year, 30% more land area in the United States is considered a drought area. Last year only 34% of the land in the contiguous United States was in a drought zone. It has nearly doubled in less than a year.
On average, each barge carrying food exports has to carry 25% less to avoid bottoming out in the Mississippi River.
To avoid hitting the rocky bottom of the Mississippi River which transports the vast majority of agricultural exports in the United States barges are having to pack 25% less product on the ships. Alternatively many farmers are resorting to transporting products by semis, which costs significantly more than transporting food by barges and ends up raising costs for the consumer.
4 billion less bushels of corn will be harvested this year compared to what was forecasted.
At the start of each year analysts predict the amount of agriculture output for a variety of different crops. Due to the drought farmers are predicted a much smaller average than was forecasted earlier this year.
The barge industry is estimated to have lost $1 billion this summer due to the drought conditions.
Due to the low water level in the Mississippi River many barge companies can’t load their barges as much as they normally would to avoid bottoming out in the river. As a result of the river narrowing in places, barges can’t travel as quickly as they normally would as river traffic is more congested than normal.
80% of all the agriculture land in the United States is currently being affected by the drought.
The heartland of America stretching from the eastern part of Colorado as far east as Missouri is where the majority of the farm land in this nation is located. This is also the area that is experiencing the worst drought conditions adding to its overall severity.
Sources: Library of Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Climatic Data Center, and U.S. Drought Monitor