Food Productions Update: Farmers all around the world are unable to get a break from bad weather. In a previous article, I noted that China has had record flood damage to many crops. This is the second year in a row that China has had a failed growing season.
The corn and soybean crop in the US has been a mixed bag. Some of the northern states like North and South Dakota and Minnesota have been too dry. The crops in the rest of the Midwest are rated as being in excellent condition. The crop is not safe until it makes it into the silo. Last year’s Derecho that ripped through Iowa proves that point.
The drought in California continues to get worse. The water levels of many reservoirs are at all-time lows. California already had 500,000 acres not get planted this year because of the lack of water.
California grows more than a third of our vegetables and two-thirds of our fruits and nuts. Millions of trees have had to be cut down because the farmers could not get the water needed to keep them alive. Salt damage, caused by the lack of drainage with fresh water, is taking tens of thousands of acres of farmland out of production.
Southern Africa is suffering through its worst drought in several decades and perhaps a century.
Diminished and late rainfall, combined with long-term increases in temperatures, has jeopardized the food security and energy supplies of millions of people in the region, most acutely in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The drought in South Africa is bad because it is normally a major exporter of grains to other nations.
The only good news I could find is in Australia. Grain production down under is expected to be strong in the 2021-22 marketing year following a record-breaking wheat production year, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Food production in South America has been an absolute disaster. In Brazil, drought and frost caused second corn yields in the country’s center-south to hit their lowest level in 10 years. Crop losses due to unfavorable weather may result in shortages and persistent food inflation due to Brazil being a top player in global corn production.
Reuters, citing a new report via agribusiness consultancy AgRural, said drought, then frosts destroyed much of the crop this year. Brazilian farmers expect to harvest around 51.6 million tons of corn, down 19 million from last season’s 70.5 million.
“Failure of the 2021 corn crop, planted with much delay due to the later soybean harvest, was the result of the lack of rain in most of the producing areas in April and May,” AgRural said. “The frost starting at the end of June and lasting until now reduced yields and also caused quality problems.”
Besides corn – citrus trees, coffee, and sugar cane in Brazil have also been heavily impacted by adverse weather conditions. Prices for coffee beans are up 50% in the past 12 months, hitting seven-year highs in July on news of the frost.
Chile is not a major producer of food but is suffering such a massive drought, it raises concern for its neighbors. The drought in Chile is now in its 10th year, going from bad to worse due to a scorching July, a month which typically brings midwinter weather showering the capital Santiago in rain and snow.
The USDA’s quarterly Grain Stocks report, released with the June 30 Acreage report, shows sharp declines in corn, soybean, and wheat stocks.
Corn stocks totaled 4.11 billion bushels, down 18 percent from the same time last year. Soybeans stored totaled 767 million bushels, down 44 percent from last year. All wheat stored totaled 844 million bushels, down 18 percent from a year ago.
What helped draw down US grain stocks is China importing a record amount of grains in 2020. The nation bought 11.3 million tonnes of corn, exceeding the annual quota, set at 7.2 million tonnes, for the first time. It also imported a record 8.38 million tonnes of wheat. As China works to rebuild its swine herd, the country imported over 100 million tonnes of soybeans, with nearly 40 million tonnes coming from the United States.
It was just two years ago that China said it was going to boycott America’s grain supplies. With Brazil a bust for this year, Chinese grain ships are going to be lining up at American ports. Washington DC is probably starting to wonder how much grain we can afford to sell to our Asian trading partner.
As we get close to the last days, food production is likely to become more problematic. Since the Bible predicts a deadly famine will take place in the tribulation, it explains why we are having one bad year after another.
“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (Rev. 6:5-6).