An article was passed on to me yesterday by EW that I thought was worth linking to. It’s an International Herald Tribune article, “Worries mount as world’s farmers push for big harvest” — published June 10, 2008.
Essentially, it discusses some of the difficulties being experienced by farmers worldwide (including the US) dealing with heavy rains in some areas and higher costs. Yet, simultaneously, the need for hearty yields is higher than it has been in some time.
Here’s an excerpt:
Randy Kron, whose family has been farming in the southwestern corner of Indiana for 135 years, should have corn more than a foot tall by now. But all spring it has seemed as if there were a faucet in the sky. The rain is regular, remorseless.
Some of Kron’s fields are too soggy to plant. Some of the corn he managed to get in has drowned, forcing him to replant. The seeds that survived are barely two inches high.
At a moment when the country’s corn should be flourishing, one plant in 10 has not even emerged from the ground, the Agriculture Department said Monday. Because corn planted late is more sensitive to heat damage in high summer, every day’s delay practically guarantees a lower yield at harvest.
“This is pushing my nerves to the limit,” Kron said one recent morning, the sky as dark as the unplanted earth.
United States soybean plantings are running 16 percent behind last year. Rice is tardy in Arkansas, which produces nearly half the country’s crop. “We’re certainly not going to have as good a crop as we had hoped,” said Harvey Howington of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association. “I don’t think this is good news for anybody.”
Harvests ebb and flow, of course. But with supplies of most of the key commodities at their lowest levels in decades, there is little room for error this year. American farmers are among the world’s top producers, supplying 60 percent of the corn that moves across international borders in a typical year, as well as a third of the soybeans, a quarter of the wheat and a tenth of the rice.
“If we have bad crops, it’s going to be a wild ride,” said the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, Joseph Glauber. “There’s just no cushion.”
There are good signs. Overall, the worldwide wheat harvest is expected to experience an 8% increase over last years due to anticipated help from the weather and an increase in the amount of acreage being cultivated. However, “even this bright spot is tentative,” the article points out, noting–for example–that the two-year Australian drought that was expected to subside has not really done so, and that the resulting wheat crop there is expected to be anywhere from 11% to 72% below average.
Seeing the conditions affecting corn and wheat in the US and Australia, one is reminded of an end times characteristic of the modern nations of Israel: drought in some areas, blight and mildew in others (cf. Amos 4:7-9).
Costs are a challenge, too. Again, from the article:
A universal saying among farmers is that high prices never last, because they encourage production that fills the demand and drives down the prices. The current crisis is testing that theory. With costs soaring for fertilizer and diesel, the expenses of farming are so high that the urge to plant more is battling, in some places, with the temptation to plant nothing.
Perhaps my favorite quote from the article is this one:
“We can’t snap our fingers and make high yields,” said Emerson Nafziger, a professor of agronomic extension at the University of Illinois. “We still depend on the weather.”
Professor Nafziger is right. We still depend on the weather. Therefore, we still depend on God. It will be to everyone’s advantage if we figure that out sooner rather than later.
Again, click here to read the full article for yourself.