Increasingly extreme spring weather has devastated agricultural production throughout the United States. In the Midwest, heavy rains prevented both the planting and harvesting of spring crops, and throughout the South, heavy flooding severely damaged valuable farmland. In the Southwest, however, it was a lack of water that did the most damage as severe droughts hampered crop production.
Oklahoma in particular has been hard hit by the recent droughts. Overall wheat production is expected to be significantly lower than previous years. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has predicted that 2011’s wheat harvest will be 38 percent lower than in previous years with 9 bushels per acre less wheat produced than in 2010. Even late May rains did little to undo the damage. While some farmers reported that they were able to harvest some of their spring crops, most harvests were well below averages.
In addition to drought, Oklahoma has suffered from hail and tornadoes, which damaged over 40,000 acres in Central Oklahoma. Farm insurers are reporting that they’ve had a sharp increase in insurance payments due to tornado damage. Claims due to tornado damage have reached thirty year highs in some parts of Oklahoma.
The damage caused by severe weather demonstrates the continued necessity of farm subsidies and agricultural safety nets. Many politicians and farm advocacy groups have argued that the upcoming Farm Bill needs to reaffirm America’s commitment to supporting the agricultural industry. Meanwhile, Oklahoma farmers continue to pray for rain and hope that they will be able to harvest their summer crops.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer