U.S. Cattle Herd Is At A 61 Year Low And Organic Food Shortages Are Being Reported All Over America

Drought 2014If the extreme drought in the western half of the country keeps going, the food supply problems that we are experiencing right now are only going to be the tip of the iceberg.  As you will see below, the size of the U.S. cattle herd has dropped to a 61 year low, and organic food shortages are being reported all over the nation.  Surprisingly cold weather and increasing demand for organic food have both been a factor, but the biggest threat to the U.S. food supply is the extraordinary drought which has had a relentless grip on the western half of the country.  If you check out the U.S. Drought Monitor, you can see that drought conditions currently stretch from California all the way to the heart of Texas.  In fact, the worst drought in the history of the state of California is happening right now.  And considering the fact that the rest of the nation is extremely dependent on produce grown in California and cattle raised in the western half of the U.S., this should be of great concern to all of us.

A local Fox News report that was featured on the Drudge Report entitled “Organic food shortage hits US” has gotten quite a bit of attention. The following is an excerpt from that article…

Since Christmas, cucumbers supplies from Florida have almost ground to a halt and the Mexican supply is coming but it’s just not ready yet.

And as the basic theory of economics goes, less supply drives up prices.

Take organic berries for example:

There was a strawberry shortage a couple weeks back and prices spiked.

Experts say the primary reasons for the shortages are weather and demand.

And without a doubt, demand for organic food has grown sharply in recent years.  More Americans than ever have become aware of how the modern American diet is slowly killing all of us, and they are seeking out alternatives.

Due to the tightness in supply and the increasing demand, prices for organic produce just continue to go up.  Just consider the following example

A quick check on the organic tree fruit market shows that the average price per carton for organic apples was $38 per carton in mid-January this year, up from an average of just $31 per carton last year at the same time. At least for apple marketers, the organic market is heating up.

Personally, I went to a local supermarket the other day and I started to reach for a package of organic strawberries but I stopped when I saw that they were priced at $6.99.  I couldn’t justify paying 7 bucks for one package.  I still remember getting them on sale for $2.99 last year.

Unfortunately, this may only be just the beginning of the price increases.  California Governor Jerry Brown has just declared a water emergency, and reservoirs throughout the state have dropped to dangerously low levels.

Unless a miracle happens, there is simply not going to be enough water to go around for the entire agriculture industry.  The following is an excerpt from an email from an industry insider that researcher Ray Gano recently shared on his website

Harris farms has released a statement saying they will leave about 40,000 acres fallow this year because the FEDS have decided to only deliver 10% of the water allocation for 2014. Lettuce is predicted to reach around $5.00 a head (if you can find it). Understand the farmers in the Salinas valley are considering the same action. So much for salad this summer unless you grow it yourself.

The reason why the agriculture industry in California is so important is because it literally feeds the rest of the nation.  I shared the following statistics yesterday, but they are so critical that they bear repeating.  As you can see, without the fruits and vegetables that California grows, we would be in for a world of hurt

The state produces 99 percent of the artichokes grown in the US, 44 percent of asparagus, a fifth of cabbage, two-thirds of carrots, half of bell peppers, 89 percent of cauliflower, 94 percent of broccoli, and 95 percent of celery. Leafy greens? California’s got the market cornered: 90 percent of the leaf lettuce we consume, along with and 83 percent of Romaine lettuce and 83 percent of fresh spinach, come from the big state on the left side of the map. Cali also cranks a third of total fresh tomatoes consumed in the U.S.—and 95 percent of ones destined for cans and other processing purposes.

As for fruit, I get that 86 percent of lemons and a quarter of oranges come from there; its sunny climate makes it perfect for citrus, and lemons store relatively well. Ninety percent of avocados? Fine. But 84 percent of peaches, 88 percent of fresh strawberries, and 97 percent of fresh plums?

Come on. Surely the other 49 states can do better.

Are you starting to understand how much trouble we could be in if this drought does not end?

About now I can hear some people out there saying that they will just eat meat because they don’t like vegetables anyway.

Well, unfortunately we are rapidly approaching a beef shortage as well.

On January 1st, the U.S. cattle herd hit a 61-year low of 89.3 million head of cattle.

The biggest reason for this is the 5 year drought that has absolutely crippled the cattle industry out west…

Back in the late fall 2013 there was a freak snowstorm that killed close to 300,000+ cattle. This is a major hit to the cattle market.

I know in Texas where they still have a 5 year drought they are dealing with, they are having to ship grass bails in from Colorado, Utah and other parts of the country just to feed the cattle. Ranchers are sending their female cattle to the slaughter houses becasue they can not afford to feed them anymore. It is the females that help re-stock the herd. SO if you are slaughtering your females, your herd does not grow. It is expected that the US will not see cattle herd growth returning until 2017, maybe even later.

This is a problem which is not going away any time soon.

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. cattle herd has gotten smaller for six years in a row, and the amount of beef produced is expected to drop to a 20 year low in 2014…

The U.S. cattle herd contracted for six straight years to the smallest since 1952, government data show. A record drought in 2011 destroyed pastures in Texas, the top producing state, followed the next year by a surge in feed-grain prices during the worst Midwest dry spell since the 1930s. Fewer cattle will mean production in the $85 billion beef industry drops to a 20- year low in 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

It would be hard to overstate how devastating this ongoing drought has been for many ranchers out west.  For example, one 64-year-old rancher who lives in Texas says that his herd is 90 percent smaller than it was back in 2005 because of the drought

Texas rancher Looney, who is 64 and has been in the cattle business his whole life, said his herd is still about 90 percent below its size from 2005 because of the prolonged dry weather. It will take years for the pastures to come back, even if there is normal rainfall, he said. About 44 percent of Texas was in still in drought in the week ended Jan. 7, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

And it isn’t just the U.S. that is dealing with this kind of drought.  The largest freshwater lake in China that was once about twice the size of London, England has almost entirely dried up because of the ongoing drought over there.

Meanwhile, global demand for food just continues to rise.

If this drought ends and the western half of the nation starts getting lots of rain, this could just be a temporary crisis.

However, the truth is that scientific research has shown that the 20th century was the wettest century in the western half of the country in 1000 years, and that we should expect things to return to “normal” at some point.

So is that happening now?

Over the past couple of years, I have warned that Dust Bowl conditions are starting to return to the western half of the United States.  Just see this article, this article and this article.

Now the state of California is experiencing the worst drought that it has ever gone through and “apocalyptic” dust storms are being reported in Colorado and Nevada.

Just because things seem like they have always been a certain way does not mean that they will always stay that way.

Things out west are rapidly changing, and in the end it is going to affect the lives of every man, woman and child in the United States.

Drought Of 2011: The Southern United States Is Desperate For Rain As The Middle Part Of The Country Continues To Get Scorched

2011 sure has been a wild year for America so far.  First we had unprecedented tornado outbreaks, then we had horrific flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, then we had record setting wildfires and now we are facing a crippling drought all over the southern United States.  From Arizona all the way to Georgia there are vast areas that have been declared to be experiencing “exceptional drought” by the National Weather Service.  Crop failures are widespread and ranchers are having a very difficult time trying to feed their cattle.  If the southern United States does not receive a significant amount of rain soon, the drought of 2011 is going to be one of biggest natural disasters that we have seen in a long, long time.

Right now, approximately 29 percent of the country is experiencing some level of drought.  About 12 percent of the U.S. is experiencing “exceptional drought”, which is the highest level of drought.  The combination of very little rain and scorching heat over much of the nation has been absolutely devastating.  Many areas have been dealing with high temperatures in the 90s and the low triple digits for weeks.

Between October and June, the state of Texas experienced one of the driest stretches ever recorded.  Already, the drought of 2011 is considered to be the third-worst drought ever experienced in Texas.

Currently, approximately 72 percent of the state of Texas is dealing with “exceptional drought” conditions.  It has been estimated that 30 percent of the wheat fields in Texas will be lost.  Agricultural losses from the drought of 2011 are projected to be $3 billion in the state of Texas alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has already designated all 254 counties in the state of Texas as natural disaster areas.  The farmers and ranchers down there are going through hell right now.

But Texas is not alone.  Most of Arizona, all of New Mexico, all of Oklahoma, most of Arkansas, all of Louisiana, most of Mississippi, most of Alabama, most of Georgia, most of Florida, most of South Carolina and most of North Carolina are also dealing with drought conditions.

This drought is hitting many of our most significant agricultural areas.  If we don’t get a significant amount of rain in some of these areas soon the losses are going to be catastrophic.

At this point, Oklahoma has just had 28 percent of the rainfall that it normally gets during the summer.  Many other areas are experiencing similar problems.

Just check out the map below.  The areas that are the darkest are the areas that are experiencing “exceptional drought”….

Needless to say, the drought of 2011 is absolutely devastating a lot of hard working farmers and ranchers.

A recent article posted on CNBC described some of the effects that this drought is having on farmers….

“The heat and the drought are so bad in this southwest corner of Georgia that hogs can barely eat. Corn, a lucrative crop with a notorious thirst, is burning up in fields. Cotton plants are too weak to punch through soil so dry it might as well be pavement.”

So what is going to happen if this drought continues for the rest of the summer?

Ranchers are also having a very hard time right now.  All over Texas, as pastures die off ranchers are selling their herds because soon they will not be able to feed them any longer.

Right now cattle are being slaughtered in record numbers due to the drought.  But after all of these cattle are gone will we be facing a cattle shortage?

Thanks to the recent wildfires and the tremendous drought, it is getting very difficult for ranchers to feed their cattle.  Just check out the following statistics from a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor….

Most Texas pasture and range lands – 86 percent – are currently “poor” or “very poor,” according to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The same rating applied to 69 percent of Oklahoma and 40 percent of Kansas.

During this month, high temperatures of over 110 degrees have been very common in cattle country.  There is not enough for these cattle to eat and there is not enough for these cattle to drink.  If things do not turn around soon, even more ranchers will be racing to sell off their herds while they still can.

But it is not just cattle that are being devastated by this drought.  Just check out what this drought is doing to deer….

Pregnant does are having problems carrying fawns to term, and most of them born prematurely aren’t surviving, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Other does are abandoning their newborns because drought-induced malnutrition has robbed them of their ability to produce milk.

Abandoned fawns found all over the Panhandle and South Plains have been brought to the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Ten had been brought to the Lubbock wildlife center by the end of last week.

This drought has also had some other dramatic effects.

For example, a gigantic “wall of dust” recently rolled through Phoenix, Arizona.  Take a moment and watch the video posted below.  Does this remind anyone else of the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s?….

In economic terms, the drought of 2011 could end up having a huge impact on average American families.

Ultimately, American consumers are likely going to feel some significant pain from this crisis as a recent CNBC article noted….

That means grocery shoppers will feel the effects of the drought at the dinner table, where the cost of staples like meat and bread will most likely rise, said Michael J. Roberts, an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. “The biggest losers are consumers,” he said.

All of this wouldn’t be so alarming if we were not already on the verge of a global food crisis.  Global food prices continue to hover around record highs.  Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are experiencing the worst drought conditions that they have seen in 60 years.  Tonight there are 10 million people living in the Horn of Africa that are facing severe food shortages.  Hunger and starvation are spreading again in east Africa and in many other areas of the world as well.

That is one reason why so many Americans are working so hard to prepare for disaster right now.  All over the United States (and around the world), “preppers” are storing up food and supplies in case things go really bad.

Some Americans are taking things to extreme levels.  For example, a man named Steven Huff is constructing a 72,000 square foot “home” (some call it a fortress) in Missouri.  Huff is the chairman of Wisconsin-based TF Concrete Forming Systems.  Apparently the goal is to show off what his firm is capable of.  It is claimed that this will be “a home that uses very low energy, as well as having strong resistance to tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, flood and insect damage”.

It kind of looks like a castle to me.  You can see a picture of this remarkable “home” right here.

Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford to build 72,000 square foot fortresses.  So we will just have to do the best that we can with what we already have.

The world is becoming more unstable every single day.  Global financial markets are getting extremely nervous and jumpy.  More chaos or more war could erupt in the Middle East at any time.  Natural disasters continue to get more frequent and more intense.  We certainly do live in interesting times.

It is imperative that we all watch carefully as these global events unfold.  None of us knows for sure what is going to happen next.  But those that are prepared are going to have the best chance to make it through when disaster does strike.

Will 2012 Be The Year That We See Mass Starvation In Africa? 12 Signs That The World Is Running Out Of Food

Tonight millions of American families will shovel huge piles of food into their mouths without even realizing that starvation is rapidly spreading in Africa.  Right now Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are experiencing the worst drought conditions that they have seen in 60 years.  Tens of thousands of African families have abandoned their homes as they desperately search for food and water.  Hundreds of thousands of farm animals have died because of the drought.  Considering the fact that approximately two-thirds of the people living in the region “make their living by raising goats, sheep, cattle and camels“, the word “catastrophic” just is not sufficient to describe what is happening.  Every single day, thousands more head to Dadaab, the biggest refugee camp in the world.  Dadaab was originally designed to hold 90,000 people, but now over 360,000 precious people are camped there.  In addition, approximately 30,000 desperately hungry people are standing outside the fences waiting to be admitted.  It is projected that by the end of the year there will be over a half million people living in Dadaab.  Sadly, this is just the beginning.  According to the United Nations, there are already 10 million people in the region that are facing severe food shortages, and many fear that if the drought continues we could actually see mass starvation in Africa in 2012.

Hopefully the world will be very generous as they hear about what is happening in the Horn of Africa.  But the truth is that food is getting tight all over the globe.  Last summer an unprecedented heat wave caused Russia to put restrictions on the export of wheat.  Some of the key agricultural areas of China, Pakistan, Brazil and Australia have experienced unprecedented flooding over the past 12 months.  Natural disasters have hit U.S. crops hard in many states as well.  Crop diseases such as UG99 wheat rust continue to spread.  The world continues to lose topsoil at an alarming rate.  Things simply do not look promising.

Meanwhile, the price of oil has absolutely soared over the past year.  The methods that we use to produce and transport our food take a lot of oil.  If the price of oil continues to climb that is going to make it very hard to feed the entire planet.

Most Americans have no idea how desperate things are becoming in many areas of the globe already.  Just check out what a recent article in The Guardian had to say about the situation at Dadaab….

Every day 1,000 Somalis stream across the Kenyan border to Dadaab, which is full to bursting with 367,000 people and already constitutes the largest refugee settlement in the world. They arrive malnourished and dehydrated but – after a walk lasting weeks – grateful that they have made it to a point where they will get food and water.

Sometimes words alone are not enough to convey an accurate picture of what is really going on.  Take a couple of moments to watch the video posted below.  Imagine if you and your family had to go to a camp like this….

Sadly, the suffering is not limited to one refugee camp.  There are millions of Africans that are now in danger of starvation.

A recent article in The Telegraph described how bad things are getting in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda….

“Two consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in one of the driest years since 1950/51 in many pastoral zones,” Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said. “There is no likelihood of improvement [in the situation] until 2012,” she added.

A lot of these people don’t have any money.  If aid was not rolling in from elsewhere they would be dropping dead all over the place.

Food prices are rising so quickly in these areas that it is becoming difficult for anyone to be able to afford to buy food.

TEAR Fund executive director Steve Tollestrup says that food prices in the region are really getting out of control…..

“For example, yellow maize prices in the Ethiopian Jiiga grain market had risen by 117 per cent from May 2010 to May 2011, while white maize at the Mandera market in Kenya had risen by nearly 60 per cent.”

In some areas of the Horn of Africa we are starting to see food riots.  For example, the following is a very brief excerpt from a recent Reuters report….

Kenyan police fired tear gas to disperse people protesting in the capital on Thursday against high food and fuel prices and a shortage of maize which has enraged many in east Africa’s biggest economy.

When people cannot even feed themselves they have nothing left to lose.

Today, there are approximately two billion people that spend more than half of their income on food.

So what are they supposed to do when the price of food doubles?

Are they supposed to spend every penny they have just on food?

Most Americans have no idea what it is like to have to scratch and claw just to survive each day.

There are hundreds of millions of people around the globe that are engaged in a desperate struggle to survive.

Meanwhile, the speculators and the big Wall Street banks feel no guilt at all when they drive up the price of food in order to make a few extra bucks.

Look, the truth is that what we are seeing in Africa right now is just the beginning.

When the global economy crashes, things are going to get a lot worse.

Right now a significant percentage of the global population can barely afford to buy enough food to eat.  Most people do not realize this, but when the global financial system totally collapses there is a very real possibility that we could see mass starvation.

The following are 12 signs that the world is running out of food….

#1 More than 3 billion people, close to half the world’s population, live on less than 2 dollar a day.

#2 Over the past year, the global price of food has risen by 37 percent.

#3 Just about every major agricultural commodity has been skyrocketing in price.  Check out what a recent Bloomberg article had to say about what has been happening to many key agricultural commodities over the past year….

Corn futures advanced 77 percent in the past 12 months in Chicago trading, a global benchmark, rice gained 39 percent and sugar jumped 64 percent. There will be shortages in corn, wheat, soybeans, coffee and cocoa this year or next, according to Utrecht, Netherlands-based Rabobank Groep. Prices also rose after droughts and floods from Australia to Canada ruined crops last year. European farmers are now contending with their driest growing season in more than three decades.

#4 According to the World Bank, 44 million more people around the globe have been pushed into extreme poverty since last June because of rising food prices.

#5 Sadly, rising food prices is not a new trend.  According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the global price of food has gone up by 240% since 2004.

#6 To a large extent, this global food crisis has been brought on by the greed of the wealthy.  A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the world population owns approximately 1 percent of all global wealth.

#7 The average income per person in the poorest countries on the continent of Africa has fallen by one-fourth over the past twenty years.

#8 It is estimated that over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where the income gap between the rich and the poor is widening.

#9 Approximately 1 billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry every single night.

#10 Every 3.6 seconds someone starves to death and three-quarters of them are children under the age of 5.

#11 It is estimated that the entire continent of Africa only owns approximately 1 percent of the total wealth of the world.

#12 According to the most recent “Global Wealth Report” by Credit Suisse, the wealthiest 0.5% of the global population controls over 35% of all the wealth on the planet.

Those of us that live in wealthy countries have it really good.

We get to shovel huge amounts of food into our faces whenever we want.

But eventually things are going to change for us as well.

Global food supplies are getting really tight.  If something does not change we are going to have some real problems.

Renowned investor Jim Rogers recently put it this way….

“We’ve got to do something or we’re going to have no food at any price at times in the next few years.”

We all saw what happened during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and during the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan.  When a major crisis occurs, food can disappear from store shelves overnight.

The frightening thing is that global stockpiles of food continue to go down.  Just check out this report from a recent Financial Post article….

Global stockpiles of corn, the most-consumed grain, are forecast to drop to 47 days of use, the fewest since 1974, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show. Inventories are declining as demand continues to outstrip production that’s forecast to rise to a fifth consecutive year of record.

Most Americans simply do not understand how close we potentially are to a major global food crisis.

Hopefully we will not see one any time soon.

But you might want to get ready just in case.

 

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