[Reader-list] US drought

Nagraj Adve nagraj.adve at gmail.com
Mon Jul 16 09:16:42 IST 2012

This has been happening in parts of the US for years.
We reap what we sow.

Drought leads to declaration of natural disaster in 26 US states

Decision means farmers who have lost crops in more than 1,000 counties are
eligible for assistance from government

   Email <http://www.guardian.co.uk/email/1773059>

   -  Suzanne Goldenberg<http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/suzannegoldenberg>,
   US environment correspondent
   - guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>, Friday 13 July 2012 00.45

 [image: Drought in Texas]
A tractor ploughs a corn field near Hondo, Texas. Natural disaster has been
declared in many areas across the southern United States. Photograph: Eric

America declared a natural disaster in more than 1,000
counties in 26 states on Thursday.

It was the largest declaration of a national disaster and was intended to
speed relief to about a third of the country's farmers and ranchers who are
suffering in drought conditions.

The declaration from the US department of agriculture includes most of the
south-west, which has been scorched by wildfires, parts of the midwestern
corn belt, and the south-east.

It was intended to free up funds for farmers whose crops have withered in
extreme heatwave conditions linked by scientists to climate change.

According to the US drought monitor, 56% of the country is experiencing
drought conditions – the most expansive drought in more than a decade.

The agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said the funds were intended to
help farmers and ranchers across the country who have lost crops to extreme
heat or wildfires.

The declaration will make affected ranchers and farmers eligible for
low-interest loans and speed processing of disaster claims.

"Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation's economy," Vilsack said.
"We need to be cognisant of the fact that drought and weather conditions
have severely impacted on farmers around the country."

The declaration covers counties in California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah,
Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas,
Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana,
Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Delaware and
Hawaii. It does not include Iowa, the country's biggest corn producer.

The first six months of this year were the warmest on record, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Twenty-eight states east of
the Rockies set temperature records.

Those record-breaking temperatures deepened drought conditions across much
of the American west, triggering an early and violent season of wildfires
in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

The heat also destroyed expectations of a bumper corn crop. American
farmers planted more than 96m acres of corn this year, the most in 75 years.

The early spring got the crop off to a good start but , after June's
extreme heat, only 40% of the crop was in good condition, according to USDA

>From the midwest to the mid-Atlantic, meanwhile, there were triple digit
temperatures, breaking hundreds of heat records. On Thursday, St Louis
confirmed 18 deaths due to extreme heat conditions.

"The recent heat and dryness is catching up with us on a national scale,"
Michael Hayes, director of the national drought mitigation centre said in a

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