US Drought

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by eric/, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. eric/ Guest

    eric/

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    #1
    Interesting article:

    Link

    Not really trying to discuss global warming or anything, but geo-politics and economics mostly.

    So on that note:

    Sepculaters be speculating and driving up cost.

    Also, interesting that this is the worse drought since the Dust Bowl. Anybody predict any craziness in the 3rd world from lack of food?

    What are your thoughts? For international members have you seen an increase in food prices, or perhaps more domestic production?
     
  2. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #2
    It has certainly been scary. We seem to be coming out of it in Illinois. We've had a good series of storms the last few weeks. My yard is green again too. So let's hope some of it is over.
     
  3. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #3
    It's basically a water issue. Awhile back there were a number of articles about farmers drilling wells like crazy in the Midwest. That's bad news for aquifers. Georgia is one good drought away from going dry and Atlanta has done almost nothing to change its thirsty habits.

    El paso is supposedly one of he most progressive US cities in terms of water policy.

    I'm glad I live in N. California where water is plentiful and intelligent water use is well established.

    Commodity prices make up only a small portion of US food prices. It would take a much worse drought than the one we currently have to impact our prices. Although beef is an exception.
     
  4. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #4
    I think this is a good thing. If food prices spike, then more money will be spent in the US for US goods, and less will go offshore.
     
  5. classicaliberal macrumors regular

    classicaliberal

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    #5
    A large portion of the affected area (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, etc.) don't use significant irrigation. Drought amplifies irrigation problems in areas where it is used, but the current American drought is a far bigger problem than just effecting those specific areas you're talking about.

    Also, you're dead wrong about it taking a much worse drought to 'have an impact on our prices.' Corn prices are already at record highs... corn, which is utilized in a tremendously high percentage of low-cost processed foodstuffs which many people rely on. (good bad or indifferent)


    You think massive drought is a net positive for the economy? Have you considered that agricultural commodity products represent the U.S.'s single largest foreign export?
     
  6. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #6
    You must not have a very good understanding of how little of our food prices makes it to the farmer.
    .
    Link

    So, even if commodity prices were to double, it would have a much smaller impact on the price of most processed food.

    Much of the reason of course is that most Americans consume far more highly processed foods now than they did 20 or 30 years ago but one also needs to realize that the bulk of American food processing is now owned by a handful of companies. These mega companies' sole goal is to maximize profits unfortunately it happens at the expense of our health and the financial health of many American farmers and ranchers.
     
  7. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #7
    I'm also glad I live in the far northwest corner of California (very near the coast). While much of the rest of the country swelters, a hot day for me might get up to 70º.

    I'm hoping the drought, storms, heat waves and such might motivate a few more people to start taking Climate Change seriously.

    [yawn]

    Let me know when you finally get around to it.
     
  8. classicaliberal macrumors regular

    classicaliberal

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    #8
    I'm very sorry, but I think you're a bit short-sighted here.

    First of all, it isn't just corn that's succumbing to the drought.

    Second, higher corn prices mean that come next planting season corn will push out other (more labor intensive) crops as the choice for farmers to plant. This will reduce the supply of said crops, significantly raising their prices at retail as a consequence.

    Furthermore, corn makes up a vast majority of the diets of animals like cattle, pigs, chickens, etc. (due to its inherent efficiency and high energy levels) It's the largest cost for the production of most meats, so prices (including eggs) will go through the roof. Add on top of that the price of dairy products... (largely fed with corn and alfalfa (competing for the same crop ground) going sky high... the list keeps going.

    You're exactly right that a very small portion of the final cost of a product at the store ends up with the farmer, but you're exactly wrong that a doubling in cost of something like corn will only result in a small increase in the price of most foods, 'highly processed' or not.



    The OP was correct to suggest leaving the climate change issue out of this discussion. Regardless of your position, we should all be able to agree that weather ≠ climate.
     
  9. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #9
    Thanks. I think that global warming is probably happening, and that we should work to stabilize the planet, but we often talk about climate change here so I wanted this thread to go in a new direction where we can talk about the geo political situation.
     
  10. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #10
    PA was really bad. The grass around the building I work in was all dead and crispy but luckily the surviving grass is thriving thanks to some rain. Too bad there are still huge patches where the grass didn't make it.

    We still need much more rain, we have only had a few storms.
     
  11. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #11
    Yet the majority of us still flush toilets, wash our cars, and water our gardens with purified and treated drinking water. And we don't give it a second thought. Pretty peculiar really.
     
  12. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #12
    I think climate has everything to do with weather.

    Climate is a direct reflection of weather patterns over a period of time. The drought and record summer temperatures appear to me to fit a climate getting warmer. Do you disagree?
     
  13. basesloaded190 macrumors 68030

    basesloaded190

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    #13
    Bring some of those storms just a little further north up here! It's been brutal in southern Wisconsin right now.

    I just saw the report on TV this evening about how low the Mississippi river is. They said it won't be getting any better before the summer is done!
     
  14. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #14
    Could you provide a list of the crops that next year's corn crop will supplant? Once again, I don't think you know much about ag in the US. In the area of the US where corn is grown, the only othe crop that is widely grown is soybeans. Typically the two are grown in alternate years. Both are predominantly used as animal feed.

    Neither fieldcorn nor soybeans are sold unprocessed to the consumer. More important to the equation is the amount of federally mandated ethanol that must be sold in the us every year. Those Iowa lawmakers have quite the racket going.

    Americans will be the least affected by the drought. The people who will pay the price are those whose diets are made up of minimally processed food.
     
  15. eric/ thread starter Guest

    eric/

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    #15
    If you want to talk about climate change, you should start your own thread. I want to discuss the politics of a drought and how that affects the rest of the world.

    Frankly, climate change has been beaten to death. We all have our opinions on the matter, and a thread devoid of the discussion will allow people with varying opinions to discuss a different matter.

    Not trying to be a jerk or single you out or anything (this is for everybody), but I don't want to turn this into a global warming debate. It's boring.
     
  16. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    And, I think we should stick to that. However, large-scale drought in the midwestern United States can be both weather and climate. They're linked, just not as directly and obviously as most people understand them.

    As the AP noted, a year after floods the river has gone so low that it's becoming hard to navigate, creating a huge instability in shipping costs for the major waterway. This affects a large number of products, including potash, rice, corn, wheat, and fertilizer. This will also shift the cost of food.

    The push on food prices will have dramatic consequences for the third-world and the US economy, especially if these droughts continue. We'll also see trouble in energy, prices go up with consumption while the water for hydroelectric systems has decreased.
     
  17. mrsir2009 macrumors 604

    mrsir2009

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    #17
    I think so too - It snowed in Wellington last winter for the first time in 70 or 90 years or something (global warming causes extremes at both ends of the scale after all) :)
     
  18. classicaliberal, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012

    classicaliberal macrumors regular

    classicaliberal

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    #18
    I do disagree. In fact, I'd say that someone who thinks they can look at any given 'summer temperatures' and that this information can allow them to draw conclusions about the larger world climate, doesn't actually understand the difference between climate and weather.



    Corn plantings vary every year by hundreds of thousands even millions of bushels in the U.S., based largely on the anticipated crop price. At the time of planting, farmers make a cost benefit analysis and plant the crop they hope will give them the best return on investment. If the price of corn doubles, and shows no signs of reduction, farmers could plant millions of more acres... largely by taking other crops out of the rotation.

    [​IMG]

    You're correct about the crop's usage, and that it's planting is not likely to fall below a certain rate. Thanks to government subsidies and 'insurance' programs, farmers in the midwest are strongly incentivized by the government to grow corn. However, the upside can change quite a bit (as demonstrated by the graph) as corn can be successfully grown in a wide variety of soil types and climates.

    The drought will have a significant impact on food prices around the world - over several years to come - period.



    I strongly agree.
     
  19. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #19
    I'm buying pork belly Futures. ;)

    Everyone must have bacon. It's instinctual.

    :cool:

     
  20. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #20
    I don't wash my car because I'm too lazy, and I don't have a garden, but I don't stop flushing when there's a drought, because, well, that's just disgusting. And if you got a whiff of the **** I took last night, you'd flush it ASAP too ;)
     
  21. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #21
    God washes my car, but he's been damn lazy of late. :mad:

    Have had them in the past, but the condo board might get suspicious if a had a couple of yards of top-soil delivered, for my balcony.

    "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down."

    Did you have to re-paint?? If not, get outta the line. :p
     
  22. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Huh. Apparently the Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change doesn't understand the difference between weather and climate as well.

    :rolleyes:

     
  23. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    Just crank-out more lives to repair the damage, and go on as before. :p
     
  24. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #24
    Just remember, it can't ever be our fault, lol. ;)
     
  25. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #25
    All your graph shows is the number of bushels, not the acreage. I'm sure if we were to take a closer look we'd find that the yield has gone up at a far greater rate than the increase in acreage. The corn growing region of the US is known as such because corn is the major crop by a huge percentage. You perhaps missed the part where I said that corn and soybeans are grown in rotation In part because soy beans are of course nitrogen fixing which is important because field corn needs large amounts.

    The guy who leases my mom's farm knows all too well that if he only grows corn he'll end up paying a lot more for fertilizer.

    I'm also somewhat surprised that you think corn is widely grown when in fact it is grown in a rather small area of the Midwest .
     

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