At the time when global economies are facing turbulent and volatile times with ongoing Euro zone crisis, low industrial output and stagnant growth, the occurrence of record breaking dry spell in Southern United States is adding to global woes. Drought conditions in Southern states of US have reached record high levels, making it one of the worst and most extensive droughts in the past 50 years. Drought in heartland of America, an area that is considered to be the breadbasket of the world, has cast a severe shadow on food prices across the world bringing bad news for consumers.
States of Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi have been facing ongoing drought since January 2011 and conditions have further deteriorated and grown more intense, recently. 95% of Arkansas is under exceptional severe drought while two-thirds of Colorado, 80% of Nebraska and Kansas and 93% of Missouri are facing drought conditions. Area affected by drought has been expanding, with area covered under severe drought rising to 42% from 37% and area covered by drought expanding to 64% from 61%. With additional 218 counties in 12 states getting designated as disaster zones due to losses caused by extensive heat and drought, now more than half of the counties in United States are under some stage of drought. End to this plight doesn't seem near either as weather forecasts are not encouraging and in fact, these conditions are expected to persist further. As per predictions, chances of busting drought lies with tropical storms that can be expected in peak of hurricane season during August - September - October.
Drought conditions bring dryness and heat, which work together and also worsen conditions to extreme. Considered to be the Corn Belt of United States, this region makes US the biggest player in corn market in the world. But, as a result of extreme drought, US is expected to slash supply of corn by around 60 billion tons. It was expected that this area would give record high production of corn this year, but week after week of no rainfall and dry weather has made it eligible for disaster aid instead. Intensified drought in major far states has also affected the soybean crop, which is also a major export for US. Shortage in supply of corn and soybean has in turn spiked their prices to record high in the global markets. Apart from corn and soybean, US also exports substantial amount of wheat and prices of wheat are already inflated due to poor conditions of weather in other major wheat producing countries like Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Impact of drought condition is not only being felt by US, but also by countries that import corn, soya bean and wheat from US. Most of the countries that import food are low and middle income economies that have a large population to feed. Already food insecure, these countries will face severe devastation, conflicts and unrest due to shortage of everyday needs. Such conflicts and revolts, due to high food prices have been witnessed in 2008 in various countries like the Philippines, Ethiopia, Egypt and Indonesia. In nations that import food, usually, governments provide subsidy on imported food to keep it within the reach of its population. But, due to drought condition, there has been a steep rise in food prices which has put tremendous pressure on budgets of these governments. Drought in Southern states of US has not only impacted agricultural produce in the area, it has been the hardest hit for animal based perishable foods. There has been significant stress on livestock and poultry as inadequate rain has reduced the number of pastures too.
From brown lawns to wilting crops, severity of drought in Southern states of US is being felt across the world. With rising prices of food and shortage in supply, economies across are reeling under threat of protests due to rising food prices. Minimizing the impact of this drought on US and around the world has no quick fixes; it will take serious time and efforts for the drought to move through the system.