Here are the headlines for this week!  You’ll see articles about global food shortages, rising commodity prices, the shrinking arctic ice cap, the health of our oceans, a farm labor shortage, and a 300 mile-long water pipeline to Las Vegas.  Enjoy!

Arctic Ice to Hit Record Low Next Week – “Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is likely to shrink to a record small size sometime next week, and then keep on melting, a scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said on Monday.”

By the Numbers: Disappearing Fish:  “90%. That’s the staggering amount of forage fish caught globally that are used for non-human activities such as providing fishmeal for aquaculture—fish farms—and agriculture, pigs and chickens. Other uses include fish oil for Omega-3 oils and pet food. Human consumption is limited.”

Corn Yield Falls 29%, Soy Counts Down: “Average corn yields found on the 20th Midwest crop tour in the western two-thirds of Ohio, the eighth-biggest corn- producing state, were down 29 percent at 110.5 bushels, smaller than an average yield of 156.3 bushels found a year earlier on the tour and 160.5 bushels on average the prior three years.”

Russia Cuts Harvest Forecasts: “Two leading Russian agricultural analysts cut their forecasts for Russia’s grain harvest on Monday after harvest data from two drought-stricken eastern growing regions reduced the outlook for the overall crop.”

Commodities Enter Bull Market: “The drought that has parched fields in the U.S. Midwest sent soybeans to an all-time high on the Chicago Board of Trade today and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has cut its corn harvest forecast by 27 percent since June.”

Zimbabwe Faces Maize Shortage:  “Zimbabwe becomes the most recent country to join the long line of countries being affected by drought. The ongoing dry spell has reduced its supply of maize, which is its staple food…  Zimbabwe usually imports maize from other Southern African countries in case of shortage. Unfortunately, this time neighbours Malawi and Zambia may not have enough surplus to meet the requirements of Zimbabwe.  Moreover, South Africa cannot export maize to Zimbabwe as it grows genetically modified (GM) maize. Zimbabwe has a strict no-GM food policy.”

California Farm Labor Shortage Worst Ever:  “The Western Growers Association told CNBC its members are reporting a 20 percent drop in laborers this year. Stronger border controls are keeping workers from crossing into the U.S. illegally, and the current guest worker program is not providing enough bodies.  When asked if any local residents have come out to apply to work in the fields, Craig Underwood replied, “None. Absolutely none.”

US Farmers Hunt Far and Wide for Hay:  “Farmers are resorting to pleas on Facebook, Craigslist and other online sites to track down hay to feed their cattle, horses, sheep and goats now and through the winter.  The drought that’s affecting most of the country has hurt alfalfa and grass, the main types of hay, forcing livestock producers to pay more and travel farther. If they can’t find enough, some will liquidate their herds.”

Low Water Strands 97 Vessels on the Mississippi:  “The U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday that 97 vessels were stranded by low water on the Mississippi River near Greenville, Mississippi, after it closed an 11-mile stretch of the drought-parched waterway for dredging and to replace missing navigation buoys.  The worst U.S. drought in 56 years has left the river there at its lowest point since 1988, a year when a similarly dire drought also stalled commercial traffic on the major shipping waterway.”

Ocean Health Index:  “In a potential milestone for ocean management, a team of collaborators has produced the first Ocean Health Index, a tool for appraising the state of the world’s oceans. The index takes into account the major factors that influence the quality of regional marine ecosystems like fisheries, biodiversity, tourism and carbon storage and then assigns a score from zero to 100 for each place.”

300 Mile Pipeline to Las Vegas Becoming a Reality:  “For over 20 years the vision of a nearly 300-mile long pipeline that would pump groundwater from rural valleys in eastern Nevada to the city of Las Vegas has floated, mirage-like, over the arid state. For the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its powerful general manager, Pat Mulroy, the project is a way to moisturize Las Vegas when the Colorado River is unable to slake the city’s thirst. For opponents — environmentalists, ranchers, Native American tribes, and others — it is a specter, an unnecessary development that could usher in irreversible environmental changes.”

Celebrate the Farmer!:  Wonderful Mark Bittman op-ed.


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