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Ranchers Sell Off Cattle And Farmers Idle Hundreds Of Thousands Of Acres As America’s Drought Emergency Escalates

Ranchers Sell Off Cattle And Farmers Idle Hundreds Of Thousands Of Acres As America’s Drought Emergency Escalates

In my entire lifetime, this is the worst that drought conditions have ever been in the western half of the country.  During the past 20 years, the amount of territory in the West considered to be suffering from exceptional drought has never gone higher than 11 percent until now.  Today, that number is sitting at 27 percent.  The term “mega-drought” is being thrown around a lot these days to describe what is happening, but this isn’t just a drought.  This is a true national emergency, and it is really starting to affect our food supply.

Just look at what is happening up in North Dakota.  The vast majority of the state is either in the worst level of drought or the second worst level of drought, and ranchers are auctioning off their cattle by the thousands

“Normally this time of the year, we’re probably looking at 400-600 head and a lot of times would be every other week,” said former auctioneer Ron Torgerson.

On Sunday and Monday, more than 4,200 head of cattle were sold at Rugby Livestock and Auction.

Needless to say, ranchers in North Dakota don’t want to get rid of their cattle, but the drought has pushed prices for hay and corn so high that many of them simply have no choice.

One of those that has already been forced to sell a large number of cattle is rancher David Bohl

As the drought continues, the price of hay and corn has gone way up. It’s more expensive for ranchers to try and supplement feed than it is to sell the cattle.

Bohl has already sold 200 of his head in the last month.

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Joel Salatin: The Promise Of Regenerative Farming

Joel Salatin: The Promise Of Regenerative Farming

It may well be our only long-term food solution

Front man for the sustainable/regenerative farming movement, Joel Salatin, returns to the podcast this week.

Next month on April 23rd, he’ll be joining Adam, the folks from Singing Frogs Farm, permaculturalist Toby Hemenway, and Robb Wolf at a speaking event in northern California. He’ll be speaking on the power that’s in our hands to make much smarter choices regarding the food systems we depend on:

Joel Salatin: Farmers get beat up for a number of things: producing what they produce, the way they treat animals, they way they treat the land . I want to point out that the power is not in the farmers. From a voting standpoint, prisoners/inmates are a lot more powerful of a constituency block in the culture than farmers are. So let’s put this in perspective: the power is in the customer. And so if you want things to change on the landscape, if you want things to change regarding chemicals, pesticides, GMO – name your issue — if you want change, well, you’ve got to make a change.

I think that too often consumers take the convenient way out and say ‘Well, if farmers would just do things differently, everything would be better.’ The truth is that farmers have always followed the market. If people refuse to buy genetically modified organism food, farmers won’t produce it. It’s really that simple. It doesn’t take a government agent, a bureaucracy, a police state, a new law. I mean, all of this could be changed just by consumers taking a more active and aggressive role at financing what they say they believe in from the outset.

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Beef prices could rise further with cruel Alberta drought

Beef prices could rise further with cruel Alberta drought

Herd size expected to shrink as ranchers sell off cattle

The price of steaks, roasts and other cuts of beef are expected to increase further because of drought conditions in Alberta, although it may take about a year before consumers feel the full bite on store shelves.

Retail beef prices hit record highs early this year and have continued to climb since then as the number of cattle in the Canada continues to dwindle. Now, drought in Alberta and Saskatchewan means ranchers struggling to feed their animals are choosing to sell some of their cattle at the auction market.

At least nine different counties throughout Alberta have declared states of agricultural disaster due to harsh drought conditions. Many areas received less than 100 mm of rain between the start of April and early July, which is less than 50 per cent of normal rainfall levels. The hardest-hit areas received less than 50 millimetres of precipitation, according to Alberta Agriculture.

Man buying meat at a grocery store

If you thought buying beef this summer was already expensive, prices could rise further with dry conditions in Alberta and Saskatchewan. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Not only are pastures and hay crops in poor condition, but little feed is available for purchase.

In the short term, for consumers, the price of beef may actually fall slightly as ranchers reduce their herd size, but retail prices may jump further next year as the number of cattle in Canada will be even smaller.

“Over the long run, if the drought causes the cow herd to shrink even further, then the supply, of course, gets tighter,” said Greg Bowie, chair of the Alberta Beef Producers. “It is going to drive the price to a different level again.”


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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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