When rain doesn’t fall in Iowa, it’s not just Des Moines that starts fretting. Food buyers from Addis Ababa to Beijing all are touched by the fate of the corn crop in the U.S., the world’s breadbasket in an era when crop shortages mean riots.
This year’s dryness is intensifying just as the plants reach their most sensitive development stage. If ample rain doesn’t fall by mid-July, U.S. farmers may face catastrophe, says Matthew Rosencrans, a National Weather Service meteorologist who specializes in drought.
In 2010 a drought that withered Russia’s wheat crop sent consumer prices in North Africa and the Middle East skyward, contributing to unrest that fed the Arab Spring. More than 60 food riots occurred worldwide between 2007 and 2009, when rapidly rising commodity prices wreaked havoc on family budgets, especially in poorer countries, where 70 percent of a household’s income may go to food. An extended U.S. drought would have a “tremendous” impact on world food prices, as a higher cost for one dollar-denominated export crop cascaded into others, Abbassian says. “The world looks to the U.S. as the safest source of supply,” he says. “Everyone watches the U.S. because they can rely on it. Without it, the world would starve.”
The crop in Russia and India aren’t faring well, but the US is being hard hit.
Here is a map of current drought conditions, as of two days ago.
Iowa isn’t as hard hit as other states, but we aren’t expecting rain in the near future, either.