This year’s drought conditions are taking a heavier toll than last year’s, as 37% of farmers said they are plowing and killing existing crops that will not reach maturity due to dry conditions. That’s up from 24% last year, according to the survey.
AFBF estimates that nearly 60% of the Western, Southern, and Central Plains are experiencing severe or higher drought this year.
“The effects of this drought will be felt for years to come, not only by farmers and ranchers, but also by consumers. Many farmers have had to make the devastating decision to sell livestock they have spent years growing or destroy trees. of trees that have been growing for decades,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president.
The AFBF survey was conducted in 15 states from June 8 to July 20 in regions with extreme drought from Texas to North Dakota to California, which accounts for nearly half the value of the nation’s agricultural production.
In California — a state with high fruit and nut crops — 50% of farmers in the state said they had to remove trees and perennial crops because of the drought, the survey found, which will affect incomes. future. And 33% of all US farmers said they have had to do the same, nearly double the number from last year.
Access to water for livestock has been a key issue for farmers and ranchers this year, with 57% reporting local restrictions on water use, compared to 50% of farmers last year. Water mains in places like Lake Mead and Lake Powell — which operate below 30% of their full capacity — typically provide water to 5.5 million acres of land in seven western states according to AFBF.
On Tuesday, the federal government announced that the Colorado River will operate in a Level 2 shortage state for the first time starting in January. This means that Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will have to further reduce their use of water from the Colorado River.
High inflation makes it more difficult to save farmers their land. The cost of oil is falling but is still high, making it significantly more expensive to truck in extra water than in years past. The price of fertilizers for grass and crops and animal feed also remains expensive.
According to the report, American consumers can expect to spend more on some food products because of the drought.
“For cattle and beef, as the market processes excess animals sent to slaughter and there is a smaller breeding herd to operate outside [price increases] it can be from six months to a year. For specialty crops it could be right after harvest,” said Daniel Munch, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Fruits, nuts and vegetables come largely from states with high levels of drought. But farmers have been forced to give up planting or destroy orchards. This “is likely to result in US consumers paying more for these goods and either relying in part on foreign supplies or reducing the variety of items they buy in the store,” the report said.
For example, California grows 80% of the world’s supply of almonds — limiting the other places American consumers can buy the popular nut. And moving where almonds can be grown is not easy — as the crop needs a specific climate and soil.
The August inflation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that US consumers are spending 9.3% more on fruits and vegetables than a year ago.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the American Farm Bureau Federation. It is primarily a lobby group representing agricultural interests.