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Flooding Takes Economic Toll, and It’s Hardly Done

An article by Christine Hauser from the NY Times details the devastation to US food crops and economy currently being caused by the swollen Mississippi River.

The flooding has dealt the United States south a heavy economic blow that is seeping into every possible corner of the region’s commercial and agricultural life.

Between 2.1 million to 2.2 million acres of farmland have so far been affected by the flooding in the delta region, or about 1 percent of all United States cropland, according to estimates from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The engorged river has disrupted waterway commerce, delaying barge traffic and forcing some cargo to be trucked overland. Grain elevators, a crucial link to the nation’s grain exports, have been swamped. Early corn and soybean plantings on delta farms are submerged.

In early 2011, a similar story unfolded in south and central Queensland, Australia, where the worst flood in half a century hit the country.

10 million tonnes of the country’s wheat crop was downgraded to less than milling quality because of rain damage, equal to half the country’s wheat crop. The damage caused a 45% increase in global grain prices.

And now Canada faces the same challenges as seeding is delayed for flooded prairie farmers. Saskatchewan Agriculture spokesman Grant McLean said spring seeding is delayed across Saskatchewan due to flooding, with the southwest area of the province particularly soggy.

Climate change projections suggest that we will experience increasingly extreme weather events, including the diametric opposites of flooding and drought, both of which pose major problems for crop production and therefore food security around the world.

ACT’s next research session is focused on Climate Change Adaptation and Crops & Food Security. We will be applying our resources to developing policy and recommendations for all levels of government as they plan responses to this vital issue.

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