Why do farmers kill their crops in the West?

A new survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation paints a dire picture for western farmers and ranchers reeling from the worst drought to hit the region in 12 centuries.

Herders kill cows and farmers uproot crops that will not reach maturity due to lack of water.

The survey garnered more than 600 responses from 15 states and was conducted over the summer.

What’s at stake: The survey notes that “the vast majority of fruits, nuts, and vegetables come from drought-stricken states where farmers feel pressured to lay land fallow and destroy orchards, likely forcing U.S. consumers paying more for these products and partially depending on foreign supplies or reducing the variety of items they buy at the store. Drought conditions in the United States are also threatening global access to certain commodities like almonds, as California produces 80% of the global supply, severely limiting buyers’ supply options.

The analysis, based on 2021 figures, puts the value of production from this drought-stricken region at $364 billion, accounting for 74% of beef cattle and 50% of dairy production.

The Texas Tragedy: The biggest herd decline is in the Lone Star State, where there has been a 50% reduction.

Matt Hargreaves, spokesman for the Utah Farm Bureau, said the drought is also hitting Utah farmers and ranchers, fueling reduced crops and shrinking cattle herds.

“It continues to be a great struggle,” he said. “Herders have reduced herd sizes over the past two years due to feed availability and range conditions. Especially in the south, herders had to sell half of their herds.

The fate of crops: According to the survey, regional respondents expected average crop yields to drop 38% this year due to drought conditions, with the biggest drop expected in Texas (reported yields down 68%), followed by Oklahoma (down 60%) and New Mexico (down 54%). Washington farmers expect the smallest yield decline (down 8%).

In California, 50% of respondents said the removal of orchard trees or other crops was “prevalent” due to drought, the survey found. Utah’s number is 19%.

An Arizona farmer lamented the disappearance of fields amid population growth and told the inquest:

Many fields near us are now fallow. Cultivated land is being converted to housing estates at an alarming rate. Over 10,000 new homes are expected within 10 miles of my house – most within 5 miles, all on farmland or former dairies. It is frustrating and alarming. Where will food come from if we grow houses instead of food? »

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