2012 North American DroughtThe 2012 North American Drought is a record-breaking expansion of the 2010–2012 Southern United States drought which began in the spring of 2012, when the record-shattering lack of snow in the United States caused very little meltwater to absorb into the soil. The drought includes most of the US, parts of Mexico, and central and Eastern Canada. It currently covers 80% of the contiguous United States with at least abnormally dry conditions. Out of that 80%, 62% is designated as at least moderate drought conditions. It is affecting a similarly large area as droughts in the 1930s and 1950s but it has not yet been in place as long. The drought has inflicted, and is expected to continue to inflict, catastrophic economic ramifications for the affected states. The drought has exceeded, in most measures, the 1988-1989 North American drought, the most recent comparable drought. It is on track to exceed that drought as the costliest natural disaster in US history.
Crops have been noted to be failing or yielding very low this year due to the drought’s presence in major farming areas. Food prices are expected to rise dramatically because the resulting supply shortfall. Parts of the Mississippi water levels have plummeted, affecting trade and commerce.
1,692 counties across 36 states in the US have been legally declared primary natural disaster areas as of August 17 as the drought continues to cover 62% of the contiguous US. Hundreds of additional counties bordering the primary disaster areas are designated as “contiguous” disaster areas, and are also eligible for federal aid.
The current drought, or any event that affects prices for raw farm commodities, ultimately has a marginal effect on what we pay at the grocery or restaurant. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack recently signed disaster designations for an additional 218 counties in 12 states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat. Counties designated today are in the states of Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming. More than half (50.3 percent) of all counties in the United States have been designated disaster areas by USDA in 2012, mainly due to drought.
During the 2012 crop year, the USDA has designated 1,584 unduplicated counties across 32 states as disaster areas — 1,452 due to drought — making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that 66 percent of the nation’s hay acreage is in an area experiencing drought, while approximately 73 percent of the nation’s cattle acreage is in an area experiencing drought. During the week ending July 29, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that U.S. soybeans rated 37 percent very poor to poor, matching the lowest conditions observed during the drought of 1988. NASS also reported that 48 percent of the U.S. corn crop was rated very poor to poor, while 57 percent of the nation’s pastures and rangeland are rated very poor or poor condition.
- Primary counties and corresponding states designated as disaster areas:
- South Dakota