USDA Alert: Half of U.S. Counties Designated Primary Disaster Areas, Financial Fallout “Intensifying” “Beef is simply going to be too expensive to eat".August 2, 2012
USDA Alert: Half of U.S. Counties Designated Primary Disaster Areas, Financial Fallout “Intensifying” “Beef is simply going to be too expensive to eat”.(SHTF).By Marc Slavo.The largest natural disaster in American history just went from bad to worse.
Sweltering heat and persistent drought across the country has ravaged crops to such extremes this summer that tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers are on the verge of financial ruin. The situation is so dire that it has prompted the US Department of Agriculture to declare more than half of America a disaster area.
…more than half of all U.S. counties – 1,584 in 32 states – have been designated primary disaster areas this growing season, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that’s considered the worst in decades.
Counties in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming were included in Wednesday’s announcement. The USDA uses the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor to help decide which counties to deem disaster areas, which makes farmers and ranchers eligible for federal aid, including low-interest emergency loans.
Source: Seattle Times
Without the ability to harvest their crops, many farmers are finding it difficult to make good on loans they used to fund their operations. Cattle ranchers, who can’t find hay due to the drought and whose feed prices are skyrocketing, are also feeling the pinch.
An AgWeb discussion in early July involving small business and family farmers displayed their desperation, with many commentors indicating this summer’s drought is the worst they’ve ever experienced. Others reported their crops were dying and pleaded for rain.
That rain never came, and according to industry experts and officials at the USDA, conditions are now set to intensify and worsen.
As of this week, nearly half of the nation’s corn crop was rated poor to very poor, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. About 37 percent of the U.S. soybeans were lumped into that category, while nearly three-quarters of U.S. cattle acreage is in drought-affected areas, the survey showed.
The potential financial fallout in the nation’s midsection appears to be intensifying. The latest weekly Mid-America Business Conditions Index, released Wednesday, showed that the ongoing drought and global economic turmoil is hurting business in nine Midwest and Plains states, boosting worries about the prospect of another recession, according to the report.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the index, said the drought will hurt farm income while the strengthening dollar hinders exports, meaning two of the most important positive factors in the region’s economy are being undermined.
Food supplies across the country – for animals and humans – are literally drying up.
This will undoubtedly lead to significant food price increases across the entire spectrum of the American diet – meat, grain, dairy, vegetables and fruit.
Tom Chatham of Project Chesapeake writes:
Corn and soybean meal are staples in animal feed and the rising prices and drought conditions are forcing farmers and ranchers to sell off their herds for slaughter. This will cause a glut in the market over the short term and you may see lower meat prices as a result but this will only be temporary. By next year the prices of meat will rise as the supply of livestock reaches multi decade lows. Supply and demand will push prices higher as a result.
Larry Pope, chief executive of Smithfield Foods has recently given a dire warning. “Beef is simply going to be too expensive to eat. Pork is not going to be too far behind. Chicken is catching up fast.”
He also stated that government regulations are going to make things even worse. Almost 40% of the U.S corn crop goes to make ethanol fuel. Pope said, “Its almost a government- mandated disaster here, which is distressing”.
He warned that meat prices will rise by “significant double digits“.
For those with the ability to do so, we recommend putting away foods that your family eats regularly, and planning for at least a three to six month window of upward price pressure. Tess Pennington offers some drought preparedness tips:
The price increases will be dramatic. Expect to see fewer grocery store sales, especially those great “loss leaders” we all love to take advantage of.
Prepare for this by stocking up NOW before the major price increases hit. For instance, purchasing bulk dried corn, corn meal, and a diverse supply of bulk meats before the prices rise. Pamper your garden and get every single ounce of produce you can squeeze out of it. Buy in bulk to take advantage of lower prices and preserve food for use this winter.
Make adjustments in your shopping and eating habits now to weather the upcoming food crisis.
If you’ve got a freezer, load it up with as much meat as you can afford to buy. Package dry goods for the long-term and have a steady supply of beans, wheat (or flour), corn and rice on hand to dip into if prices do happen to jump. While we all hope for a rainy year in 2013 to get struggling farmers back on their feet and our prices at the grocery stores to affordable levels, taking measures today based on the credible information available to us can help save us from paying 30% or more in food costs over the course of the next several months.
While the idea of buying commodities at lower prices today may save us money, worst case scenario planning is always in order. A well stocked food pantry can help us supplement our diets for quite some time if we experience a drought similar to the Dust Bowl of the 1930′s, which was felt for three consecutive and particularly devastating years before things began to return to normal.Read the full story here.
it’s hard to imagine America having a shortage of meat
(This article was first published at www.newswise.com via JPost) The common barnyard chicken could provide some very un-common clues for fighting off diseases and might even offer new ways to attack cancer, according to a team of international researchers that includes a Texas A&M University professor.James Womack, Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, is co-author of a paper detailing the team’s work that appears in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists). Womack was a leader in the international effort to sequence the cattle genome in 2004.
Womack and the team, comprised mostly of scientists from the Seoul National University in Korea, examined 62 White Leghorn and 53 Cornish chickens for diversity in NK-lysin, an antibacterial substance that occurs naturally in animals and is used as a method of fighting off diseases.
They were able to obtain two genetic variations of NK-lysin and the results offered two unexpected shockers: both showed abilities to fight off bacterial infections and other diseases, while one showed it could successfully fight cancer cells as well.
“It took all of us by surprise,” Womack says of the findings.
“One of the genetic variations shows it has the ability to fight against cancer cells much more aggressively than the other variation. We certainly were not looking at the cancer side of this, but there it was.”
Womack says the team selected the two breeds because Cornish and White Leghorn chickens, found throughout most of the world, have relatively diverse genetic origins.
After conducting a DNA sequence of the chickens, the team found two variations of the genes that offered clues as to their protective ability to ward off infections.
“One form appears to be more potent in killing off cancer cells than the other, and that’s the one that naturally caught our eye,” Womack adds.
“This could lead to other steps to fight cancer or in developing ways to prevent certain infections or even diseases. It’s another door that has been opened up. We are looking at similar studies right now to see if this is possible with cattle.
“The next step is to work with other animals and see if similar variants exist. We need to look for any genetic similarities to the chicken variants and then determine if these variants affect the health of the animal, but this is an exciting first step in this direction.”
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Chicken is the top-selling meat in the United States. The average American eats 84 pounds a year, more chicken than beef or pork. Sorry red meat, chicken is what’s for dinner. And now the USDA is proposing a fundamental change in the way that poultry makes it to the American dinner table. As early as next week, the government will end debate on a cost-cutting, modernization proposal it hopes to fully implement by the end of the year. A plan that is setting off alarm bells among food science watchdogs because it turns over most of the chicken inspection duties to the companies that produce the birds for sale. The USDA hopes to save $85 million over three years by laying off 1,000 government inspectors and turning over their duties to company monitors who will staff the poultry processing lines in plants across the country. The poultry companies expect to save more than $250 million a year because they, in turn will be allowed to speed up the processing lines to a dizzying 175 birds per minute with one USDA inspector at the end of the line. Currently, traditional poultry lines move at a maximum of 90 birds per minute, with up to three USDA inspectors on line. Whistleblower inspectors opposed to the new USDA rule say the companies cannot be trusted to watch over themselves. They contend that companies routinely pressure their employees not to stop the line or slow it down, making thorough inspection for contaminants, tumors and evidence of disease nearly impossible. “At that speed, it’s all a blur,” one current inspector tells ABC News. According to OMB Watch, a government accountability newsletter, cutbacks at the USDA have coincided with a significant rise in salmonella outbreaks. The group says 2010 was a record year for salmonella infection and 2011 saw 103 poultry, egg and meat recalls because of disease-causing bacteria, the most in nearly 10 years. The USDA, which has been running a pilot program of the changes in 20 US poultry plants, says the new system is not about cost-cutting, but about bringing food safety up to date. In background briefings, the agency will not answer on the record questions posed by ABC News, USDA says it plans on increasing the number of scientific tests to look for microbiotic disease invisible to human eye inspectors. But the agency has not been able to furnish data that shows an increase in lab testing during the 12 year pilot program. Watchdog groups insist a combination of increased testing and government inspection is needed to lower salmonella and other disease outbreaks from chicken. The National Chicken Council says on its website that while “plant employees would have an expanded role in inspecting carcasses,” USDA inspectors will still be in the plant. And “we are confident that modernizing the poultry inspection system will enable us to build on our success in providing delicious, safe and wholesome food to our customers.” http://news.yahoo.com/usda-let-industry-self-inspect-chicken-191142649–abc-n…
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