A silent destruction

5c8bad88a77cd.imageThe national media is obsessed with the process of electing a President that won’t culminate for another 18 months or so, and don’t really have column inches or airtime enough to spend on the real crisis happening right now….or the crisis that is to come.

The weather in the midwest has devastated family farms and continues to do so. Of course, weather happens every year, season in and season out, and farmers and ranchers do plan for it.

But the ranchers and farmers in Nebraska didn’t plan on a frozen reservoir breaking, record snowfall melting, and record rainfall falling. Farms are destroyed and generations of breeding, equipment and homesteads are lost. Thousands of acres of land are under water, just at spring seed planting time, and drying out will take weeks. That will be too late for spring crops to go in, and besides that, the topsoil will have been washed away.

The loss of breeding stock is a blow to genetic improvement programs everywhere, not just to the local farms. A farmer who has a particular line of imported sheep, cattle or goats has lost years and years of upbreeding, not to mention the possibility that the traits and genetics that he started with could well have been the last of its kind.
And other breeders may have depended on that farmer’s breeding program for their own herds.

Beyond that, the vast majority of agricultural losses come from crops. Nebraska’s top five contributions to the U.S. economy are cattle, corn, soybeans, hogs and wheat. Corn alone is in nearly every product sector (livestock feed, bio-plastics (biodegradable plastic ware), batteries, matches, textile products (like carpet!), crayons, and ethanol.  Between 10 and 20 percent of the corn crop is exported.

It directly affects the farmer, but also the supermarkets of the nation, and the exports of food to other nations. There will be severe shortages of a variety of crops and feeds such as alfalfa, forage grasses and grains. Beef and pork will be more expensive for at least the coming year, as will ethanol-blended gasoline.

The level of catastrophe was so sudden that there was no time to evacuate pregnant livestock or move seed stockpiles to a safe place.

While the pundits dither over what a candidate’s hand movements actually say about him, or why a celebrity might want to pay a half a million dollars to get their mediocre and uninterested kid into an elite college, lifetimes of work, breeding and agricultural heritage have been washed away, with no solution to replace them.





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