Hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts – oh my! Not only was 2020 defined by COVID-19-induced volatility, over 22 weather and climate disasters, each with damages reaching over a billion dollars, hit the U.S. coast to coast last year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2020 shattered a previous annual record of 16 individual billion dollar weather events which occurred in both 2011 and 2017.
In its largest set of declarations since mid-May, the USDA designated 101 counties in the Midwest and West as natural disaster areas due to drought. The designations make farmers and ranchers eligible for USDA emergency loans to covers such needs as the replacement of equipment and livestock or financial reorganization.
Last week's devastating heat wave caused damage throughout the Pacific Northwest. Aside from the immediate health impacts, agriculture businesses suffered big losses because of wilting crops. As last week's heatwave sent temperatures in the triple digits raspberries and blueberries took an especially hard hit.
As spiked temperatures continue to hang over parts of the West Coast - some climbing over 100 degrees - growers are watching and assessing how the heat may affect their crops. At Duncan Family Farms, the main impacts of the heat on some of the organic crops it grows currently in Merrill, OR is the speeding up of growth on product which can affect quality if it grows too fast.
Climate change has already made Missouri a little more hot and humid, but has also caused some diseases for crops like corn and soybeans to become more prevalent. If not treated properly, farmers could see a significant loss in crop yields. However, there are ways Missourians can both fight off these crop diseases and combat climate change.
Southeast Arkansas farmers expressed to U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton on Tuesday the urgent need for federal relief after last month's floods caused more than $200 million in crop loss. More than 40 farmers gathered at the Walnut Lake Country Club, about 3 miles away from Dumas, to speak to the Republican senator.
“I can assure you heading forward there are going to be some areas - running right through the heart of the Midwest - that are going to be a little bit too wet by the time we get to the fourth of July, meaning we'll be experiencing lowland flooding and some loss of nitrogen just by leaching,” says USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey.