It is no secret that we are in one of the worst droughts of our lifetime. Could these weather conditions be the beginning of something much worse? Or even create a perfect storm that will lead to the beginning of the end of America’s vitality?
To begin, farmers in Oklahoma and in Texas are already bracing themselves for what may be their largest TEOTWAWKI event ever experienced. These two states are the largest producers of hay and cattle in the United States. However, due to persistent drought conditions plaguing this part of the country, the outcome has the two states seeing the smallest hay crop in over a century, thus creating a shortage of feed for livestock. “Farms may harvest only one crop from alfalfa and Bermuda grass this year, compared with three normally”, said Larry Redmon, a state forage specialist at Texas A&M University. (Source)
The Perfect Storm
The hay shortage is leading many cattle ranchers to sell off their herds prematurely to make any type of profit. Cattle that usually graze on fields through September or October, are instead being sold to feedlots, where they are confined in pens and eat mostly corn. Steven Kay, publisher for Cattle Buyers Weekly admits that beef producers are culling cows and young females, which means smaller supplies [of cattle] for the next two years or longer. Don Close, a market director with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in Amarillo, TX agrees with these sentiments and adds that liquidating the cattle herds is “going to make a tight supply even tighter, as we get down the road.”
Long-term drought conditions and hay shortages are not the only SHTF events farmers need to worry about. Fred Duvall, a cattle rancher for over 50 years suspects that if the drought continues for another three months it will finish off some cattle-raisers. “They’ll have to completely sell out.” (Source)
The implications of these issues will be felt by the entire country through shortages of meat and surging prices for years to come. In fact, the USDA forecasts that retail-meat prices may increase this year as much as 7 percent and dairy products may jump 6 percent, more than the rate of overall food inflation at 3 percent to 4 percent.
A Modern Day Disaster
As much as we would like to hope and pray for the weather conditions to change, this could be the beginning of a long-term disaster that the entire country will feel. This devastation is very similar to the drought conditions experienced during the 1930’s that brought about the devastating dust bowls which only intensified the suffering during the Great Depression.
Increasing food prices, food shortages, droughts, families losing their homes. Does any of this sound familiar? We all know that history can repeat itself. Whether or not we choose to see history repeating itself is the real question. However we decide to view this scenario, it is a modern day disaster that will be hard to come back from. Preparing for harder days to come is inevitable at this point, especially for those in the farming and cattle business.