While much of the middle of the United States is experience record flooding, other parts of the country are experiencing severe drought. The maps below illustrate the striking contrast. The flood map from the USGS and NOAA illustrates a line of major flooding throughout the Mississippi River basin. The drought monitor from USDA and USGS shows exceptional drought in much of Texas.
Together these extremes pose dire consequences for agricultural production. In the areas hard hit by drought, livestock has been hurt by the loss of pasture, hay, and stock ponds, winter wheat has failed, and wildfires are on the rise. The floods have also impacted winter wheat around the Mississippi River as the crops were due to reach harvest maturity in June.
The worry about the impact of climate change on agriculture isn’t about the slow changes caused by a gradual shift in our weather patterns. The greatest worry is that climate change might intensify already extreme events. An already stressed agricultural industry faces the impacts of land loss, water shortages, increased population, the use of food for biofuel, and increased energy costs. These factors are making it harder to feed our populations economically.