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Drought Covers One-Third Of U.S. Counties, The Largest Agricultural Disaster Area Ever Declared

By Rebecca Leber  

"Drought Covers One-Third Of U.S. Counties, The Largest Agricultural Disaster Area Ever Declared"

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The U.S. Agriculture Department has issued a natural disaster declaration for more than 1,000 U.S. counties facing severe drought. This disaster declaration is the largest ever from the Agriculture Department and includes one-third of counties and spans 26 states. Some 53 percent of the Midwest is facing moderate or severe drought, but areas beyond the drought’s borders could pay higher world grain prices, due to a poor harvest.

This disaster declaration makes farmers eligible for disaster assistance, but lawmakers will continue to remain silent on the root cause: Climate change. The year of record heat isn’t a chance occurrence, but comes from a climate system on steroids, “juiced” by manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

More than one-third of U.S. counties are facing severe drought.

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28 Responses to Drought Covers One-Third Of U.S. Counties, The Largest Agricultural Disaster Area Ever Declared

  1. Dano says:

    It may be 1/3 of counties, but the average land area of counties out west is larger – eyeballing that map makes the drought affecting ~close to 50% of land area.

    Best,

    D

    • Artful Dodger says:

      Obviously so! It’d be interesting to see the drought map overlayed on a flood map…

      • wili says:

        http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/archive.html

        Interesting to compare these maps. Florida is nearly drought free, according to the Drought Monitor, but nearly the whole state is in drought emergency on the map above.

        Note that one of the few areas not colored in some shade of yellow to red in the DM maps is northern MN, which has experienced devastating floods recently.

    • Oggy Bleacher says:

      CNN (that beacon of truth) reports that it’s 60% of the land. Other counties, like in NJ, are definitely as dry but their drought isn’t a disaster because they might not grow anything except chemical flavoring for fast foods.

      • DonB says:

        Normally they grow a lot of sod for lawns, vegetables like tomatoes, etc. But there is water for irrigation.

  2. Peter M says:

    8 day heat wave setting up for the northeast (90 or above) going to be brutal.

    Are things getting a wee out of control?

  3. dan allen says:

    …And even here in central New Jersey (a non-drought state, above), it hasn’t rained for weeks with temps in the 90′s throughout.

    • Gail says:

      I’m in New Jersey too and it is dry as a bone. If that’s any indication, things are much worse than we are being told.

    • Ric Merritt says:

      The orange areas in the map don’t come anywhere hear us in southern Wisconsin, but we haven’t had any rain to speak of in weeks. In town, the yard and garden might be OK so far if you are using the hose a lot, but we are already talking about losing the whole corn crop.

  4. thomas says:

    The “climate on steroids” analogy has got to go. It’s all over this blog, but I really think it fails to make a meaningful connection or explain in a clear way what we’re experiencing. We’re not “juicing” the climate, we’re making the earth inhabitable.

    • jk says:

      I’m assuming you mean “uninhabitable”?

      • Nate says:

        Perhaps he did mean ‘inhabitable’.. to various pollutants and toxins.

      • thomas says:

        yes, sorry, uninhabitable.

        • climatehawk1 says:

          Analogies are needed to make the science of global warming understandable to laypeople. The steroid analogy is one of the best. Until they understand it, getting more apocalyptic isn’t really effective.

          • thomas says:

            I understand that analogies are necessary and useful, I just don’t think the steroids analogy is particularly useful or compelling.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      For lizards.

    • MorinMoss says:

      So long as we have our vast oceans, I don’t think Earth will be uninhabitable but the direction the global climate is headed will make life in many areas very, very difficult, especially for the lower and middle classes

  5. BillD says:

    Hard to believe that Florida is in drought when they have had severe flooding. That red spot in northern Indiana where I live has only seen about 1 inch of rain since early May. The farm crops are a complete write off, except for a few farms that use irrigation–even those are well below normal in plant growth.

  6. Mark E says:

    Will the Tea Party precincts decline disaster assistance?

    Let’s see a precinct map overlaid on this one…. blank out all the precincts that did NOT elect a Tea Party candidate to some elected office.

    In protest of government expansion and taxation – Tea Party bread and butter nonsense – will those elected officials now walk their talk by opposing federal disaster assistance for their constituents?

    • sandy46 says:

      Ol small government Scott Walker declared 43 Counties in Wisconsin as drought disaster and wants Federal Assistance. They want, they want, they want. Unless its a Democratic jobs help, or stimulus, or anything that is proposed by Obama. But they still have their hands out when disaster strikes. Its terrible that Congress doesn’t work for the best for this country. Someday it will be too late. We will be the illegal immigrants trying to cross our northern border in order to survive.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The Rightwing mentality is dominated by pleonexia, which was defined by one source as ‘..the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others’, and by some geezer called Ritenbaugh as ‘..ruthless self-seeking and an arrogant assumption that others and things exist for one’s own benefit’. That is, what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine, too-sod off! Or as Adam Smith observed, ‘All for ourselves and nothing for other people seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind’.

  7. bdub says:

    but drill drill drill for that oil, still huh? fracking has to go. need i say more?

  8. M Tucker says:

    BillD said, “Hard to believe that Florida is in drought when they have had severe flooding.”

    That is because this is not a current drought map. This USDA map is used to identify where there had been drought in the past several months, in Florida’s case before the tropical storm, to determine qualification for disaster relief for farmers and ranchers. The USDA wants to “fast-track” the application process in order to streamline the relief. The map is a chronicle of the damage done to this year’s harvest. However we are not really getting the complete story.

    Even though the corn crop is damaged the wheat crop seems to be in pretty good shape. The US winter wheat harvest is nearly complete due to a mild winter and only the import dependent nations are having severe price increases for bread: Egypt and Pakistan. The price increases for wheat in the US are solely driven by investor worry and will probably settle down soon. Several nations have been hording grain as a precaution against shortages and price swings and so far the rice crop is in good shape. The usual suspects in Africa will have trouble again this year and a few southern hemisphere nations may need to import more grain than normal but severe world wide shortages seem to not be an issue this year.

    This year’s drought is resulting in more ground water use and those water tables are going down. What we have is sever climate unpredictability that will cause grain and meat prices to trend upward and some harvest seasons will bring severe shortages that cannot be avoided as long as we do nothing to address AGW.

  9. jyyh says:

    the separate drought area in SE is a bit of surprise to me at least, I’ve not seen that sort of thing projected anywhere, the Appalachians shouldn’t stop rains they’re not that big… http://www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_southeast.htm

  10. Pippa says:

    I currently live in coastal Maine, and the heat index is currently 103…. in Maine! This past winter was exceedingly mild with hardly any snow to speak of. In addition to the insane heat, we went from a month of solid torrential rain to nary a drop in sight. A few brief squalls, but not much else. Northern New England is no stranger to freakish and rather tempestuous weather, but this is even throwing the old timers for a loop.

  11. Dick Smith says:

    Southern Wisconsin has had 0.31 inches of rain in 43 days. Severe drought. Hard to believe we’re not in there. Maybe that’s next week.

  12. Lori says:

    So when is this going to be front page mainstream news, when every crop is dead and Kansas City is buried in dust?

  13. Danny says:

    Our ice caps are melting.