What comes to mind when you hear the word drought? Something that happens to someone else? Outdoor water use restrictions? Visiting folks in WI, it really hits home just what a drought really is.
It's corn that's not even 3 feet tall already brown and withered away, long before it ever ripened for harvesting. It's a priest exhorting his congregation to pray for rain, for the farmers in the community and for the general well-being of the town.
Talking to my wife's uncle, who is an honest-to-goodness farmer, things are bad. He knows folks who rent farmland, $300 per acre per year, due at harvest time, who will have no crops to show for the money they've spent so far. Worse yet, they've paid for the seed and the fertilizer for crops that didn't make it to harvest, so they're even further in the hole.
And, of course, there's the specter of what it means for the rest of us should the drought continue: Higher food prices and shortages are almost certain as crops don't make it to harvest; not only food on our plates but food that goes to feed livestock is no longer available as it once was.
Naturally, the finger pointing begins in earnest, with some blaming global warming and others blaming farm subsidies. It's human nature to want to assign blame for this; you can't score political points on Mother Nature, but you can on evil corporations that a) pollute the environment; b) run small independent farms out of business; or c) contribute to politicians with the wrong letter in parenthesis after their name.
But the real people who are hurting now are the farmers; folks who are working their fingers to the bone just to barely break even - and in many cases not even doing that. This year may be one for the record books, with uniformly small crop yields and attendant fallout. There's talk that food animals may be culled early in anticipation of significantly higher prices; stock up now if prices decline due to overabundance of stock.
And in any case, keep the farmers of America in your thoughts - and think of rain.
That is all.
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