Drought news: $100 million impact from 2011 drought in the Arkansas Valley, 2012 could be worse #CODrought


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The 2011 drought cost the Arkansas Valley more than $100 million and 1,300 jobs, an analysis by Colorado State University-Fort Collins shows.

The bad news is that 2012 could be worse.

“This year will be worse because drought is more widespread over the state, and because irrigated agriculture is affected as well as dryland crops,” said James Pritchett, an economics professor who help prepare the study.

Pritchett presented the findings Wednesday to the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, which looks at water issues and networks with other basins in the state. The study was completed last year, and looks at traditional economic concerns such as lost potential for growing crops and the impact on supplies.

From USA Today (Richard Wolf):

The president used his weekly radio address to cite the record heat — July was the warmest month on record — as one reason why Congress must compromise on farm legislation.

“Today, I want to talk about something that most of you know already — it’s hot outside,” Obama said. “It’s really hot.”

While his administration has taken several steps to help farmers get emergency loans, open up more federal land for grazing, and get water to livestock and supplies to small businesses, Obama said Congress hasn’t done its part.

“So call your members of Congress, write them an e-mail, and tell them that now is the time to come together and get this done,” he said. “Too many Americans are suffering right now to let politics get in the way.”

From The Huffington Post (Wm. Robert Irvin):

While this year’s drought may be the worst in 50 years, indicators suggest that this may be a harbinger of things to come, with more frequent and extreme droughts of this magnitude in the future. While drought in any particular year may not be attributable to global climate change resulting from human activities, it is now abundantly clear that climate change makes drought and other extreme weather events more likely.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program found that droughts — such as the one we are experiencing now — are likely to become more common and intense as precipitation patterns change. We can expect longer and warmer dry spells between rain events that will dry out soils and intensify drought conditions. In 2011, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on managing extreme events and disasters, which predicted that in the U.S. the most noticeable changes we will see are in the number and intensity of extreme drought events.

We all need clean water. The prospect of more frequent and extreme droughts across the U.S. challenges us to find new ways to secure reliable clean water supplies for today and the future. While we cannot make it rain, we can manage the water we have in ways that make our communities and rivers more resilient in the face of extreme and frequent droughts that accompany climate change.

From the Gannett Washington Bureau (Raju Chebium) via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

Drought conditions affecting more than half the country are expected to cost farmers about $12 billion nationwide, according to preliminary estimates…

After oil and gas, agriculture is the second-largest industry in Colorado, generating about $4 billion a year, said Shawn Martini, spokesman for the Colorado Farm Bureau. About two-thirds of Colorado’s 200,000 farms belong to cattle, sheep and horse owners, he said. So an ailing agriculture industry will have ripple effects on the state’s entire economy.

The biggest problems livestock owners face are scarce grazing grounds and escalating prices for hay and grain, experts say…

Last month, the Obama administration decided to allow grazing and haying on some of the 29.6 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays landowners to leave environmentally sensitive land untouched for at least 10 years…

[Jon Slutsky, owner of La Luna Dairy in Wellington] has seen feed prices climb from $130 a ton in early 2011 to $230 a ton this summer. “That’s a bargain,” he said. “There are guys who are paying $300 a ton. There are people talking about prices going to $400 a ton.”