Thursday, September 21, 2023

Recent drought and flooding devastation across the United States

By Elizabeth Poisson Poultry Times staff AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File A sign about saving water is posted on browning grass outside the California state capitol in Sacramento, Calif., in July, in this Associated Press file photo. California's water use dropped more than 10 percent in July compared to two years ago, state officials said on Sept. 7.

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — The western United States has been experiencing the worst drought it has seen in decades. Also, the states of Mississippi and Kentucky have recently seen serious flooding.

The United States Drought Monitor classifies droughts in a particular part of the country by soil moisture, streamflow and precipitation levels. The USDA says determining a drought depends on historical weather patterns around the country like the Midwest or the East Coast. There are many regions across the United States that depend on rainfall for their agricultural production, a drought hurts the crop and livestock harvests.

Droughts also hurt the productivity of a farm. A variety of agricultural lands required for irrigation can experience drought reduction through the amount of accessible streamflow and snowpack. These droughts can negatively impact the local, state and national economies.

A farm could have lower quantities of food while food prices continue to rise. In July, the USDM determined that the most extreme droughts were in the states of California, Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico. The USDM says 32 percent of land in the western United States is facing expectational or extreme levels of drought. Data reports from the USDM state that during the summer of 2021 the western United States surpassed all previous droughts in the area since 2000. The conditions of the drought in the western United States steadily lessened in the later months of 2021 and started escalating again during the early months of 2022.

As of July 11, the National Drought Mitigation said that estimated 12 percent of the alfalfa hay acreage in the United States was suffering severe or exceptional drought circumstances.

Ranchers and farmers in South Texas relayed their grievances to reporter Nataly Keomoungkhoun with the Dallas Morning News. Russell Boening said, “It’s powder dry, we did make some hay off of what was left here, but we didn’t make any grain. We tried to make what we could.”

Less than three quarters of Texas is experiencing severe drought conditions that farmers and ranchers have never seen. The city of Floresville the most severe drought the city has ever seen with the driest and highest grade classified by the USDM. The largest city in Texas, Victoria, usually expects an average of 40 inches of rain in a year. A cotton farmer said Victoria has only received up to 12 inches of rain. The city of Pleasanton has only received 7 ¾ inches of rain when the city normally receives up to 26 to 28 inches of rain.

Boening is the president of the Texas Farm Bureau in Floresville. He said that the city had about 2 ½ to 3 inches of rain since November. When August rolls around, there is normally approximately 18-20 inches of rain.

“I’ve been doing this for 41-plus years. It’s never been this dry in our area in my lifetime,” Boening said.

The drought throughout Texas is breaking the bank when it comes to running agricultural businesses. The rising inflation prices are not making business easier as well. Steve Bauer, a rancher, owns a supply store that sells equipment to local farmers and ranchers. Last year, the inflation crisis struck his business making the prices of the items in his store to go up. Bauer said that a bale of hay at Double L Ranch & Wildlife Feed costs $160, that’s $90 more than the previous year. Last year, cattle feed cost $350 to $400, this year it cost $600.

The Census of Agriculture is taken every five years. In 2017, the expenditures for farmers and ranchers nationwide were $326.4 billion. In 2020, the expenditures went up to $366.2 billion and in 2021 expenditures rose to $392.9 billion. Most of the farmers and ranchers’ expenses go towards feed, farm services, livestock, labor, rent and other poultry related costs. Last year, the average farm spent an estimated $105,445.

The USDA notes that Texas ranked number three in the nation with expenditures reaching $26 billion in 2021. According to Bauer, management of livestock has gotten very pricey, and his inputs have increased. The drought and inflation have made it hard to finance farms and keep animals hydrated and nourished.

Bauer said, “my wife and I have reduced our herd by 30 percent already. I’ve been fortunate and have got enough that I can kind of spread them out and hopefully maintain my herd and be able to come out the other side of this when it does start raining again.”

On Sept. 5, the drought caused a devastating wildfire in Riverside, Calif. Fox News reported, the fire burned 2,000 acres of land and claimed two lives. It forced thousands from their homes and destroyed seven homes. The city of Hemet is only 5 percent contained. Firefighters were not only fighting the fire, but also triple-digit heat.


Deadly flash floods have recently hit Providence, R.I. Providence has seen 3.42 inches of rain. Fox News reported that parts of the interstate are completely immersed, and vehicles are trapped underwater. The flooding is so bad that it caused a building to collapse. Other parts of Rhode Island have seen lots of rain as well. Greenville has seen 7.19 inches of rain, Cranston has seen 5.76 inches of rain, Pawtucket has seen 4.11 inches of rain and Coventry has seen 3.42 inches of rain.

According to Fox News, after a flood in Jackson, Miss., the flood waters engulfed water treatment plants. The water treatment plants have been shut down since the flood. This has caused inconsistent water pressure and bad water chemistry. There have been 600 National Guardsmen deployed to the area and they set up seven distribution sites to give out water. They served 20,000 vehicles and they could serve 10,000 more.

According to, On Aug. 26, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed a relief package of $212.7 million to aide fellow Kentuckians over the next six months who were hurt by the disastrous flooding.

“Today, we stand here together in our Capitol Rotunda — and we stand united,” Beshear said. “We stand united in our love and compassion for those who have lost loved ones in the flood. And we stand united in our purpose to help the people of Eastern Kentucky rebuild their lives and their communities.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker David Osborne and House Mountain Caucus John Blanton supported the piece of legislation.

“Each day since the floodwaters began rising in Eastern Kentucky, we have made every effort to maximize available federal dollars while allocating these available state funds,” Stivers said. “The sequence of our actions and the commitment we’ve demonstrated today will have a long-lasting impact on Eastern Kentucky’s future. The passage of this bill and the actions we’ll take in future sessions demonstrate our thoughtful plan to rebuild our communities.”

“I am hopeful that the people of Eastern Kentucky see today as a reminder that their elected officials hear them and see the devastation this flooding has caused,” Osborne said. “The legislators in impacted areas worked tirelessly to pass a plan that includes funding to support the region’s rebuilding efforts. As we have with similar efforts in Western Kentucky, we remain committed to working with state and local leaders as well as other stakeholders as the rebuilding process continues and needs evolve.”

“We’ve been through a devastating time over the past four weeks,” Blanton said. “We are a strong, proud, resilient people and we will get through this. But we need a little help along the way, and this is that help. I can’t say thank you enough to the Governor, Rocky and the entire executive branch and to leadership in the Senate and the House. To steal a phrase from the Governor, this is not a bipartisan bill, it’s a nonpartisan bill. But I’m going to add one to that: This is a Kentucky bill. This is Kentuckians coming together to help Kentuckians.”

“This is step one … we still have people in tents, and we still have people in shelters,” Blanton added. “This bill provides funding for intermediate housing to get them into something with a roof and with heat before the cold weather months. I want to ensure people that we are prepared to make further purchases to get every single family and individual into housing.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation are coming together to raise money for the people of Eastern Kentucky who were affected by the flash flooding.

“When the tornadoes hit western Kentucky late last year, Kentuckians didn’t hesitate to act. Now, our neighbors in Eastern Kentucky need our help,” Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “We’ve seen lives lost, power outages, homes knocked off foundations, and roads washed out. As the cleanup begins and we start to really see the devastation these rising waters have caused, our hearts break at the losses endured. These funds will allow families and communities to start to rebuild after these historic floods. I thank Kentucky Farm Bureau for once again joining forces with us to help Kentuckians in need.”

“The heartbreaking devastation from this (recent) flooding in Kentucky is overwhelming for so many families and communities throughout the commonwealth,” said Mark Haney, Kentucky Farm Bureau president. “So many of you have already reached out asking how you can help. The best way we feel our organization can assist those that wish to help is to relaunch our KFB for Kentucky Relief Fund to aid the families and communities affected by the devastating floods. This special account is used to give people a trusted way to financially support those in need through the coming weeks and months of disaster recovery.”

The Kentucky Relief is being handled by the Kentucky Farm Bureau Education Foundation. The money that is accumulated will be given to the victims affected by the floods in the coming weeks and months.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to this relief effort online, please go to, or checks can be mailed to: Drew Graham, Executive Vice President, Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, 9201 Bunsen Parkway, Louisville, Ky. 40220. Checks should be made out to “Kentucky Farm Bureau Education Foundation” and denoted “KFB for Kentucky Relief Fund” on the memo line.

For inquiries about the KDA’s donation site, please call the KDA office at 502-573-0282.

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