Drought Deepens Across West

Farmers are used to dealing with unpredictable weather – but for those in Western U.S., this year is more than a blip. Due in part to climate change, the region is currently enduring a mega-drought, which is a drought that last two decades or longer. 
Water supplies are already depleted from recent dry years – and now that 2021 is shaping up to be one of the driest in a millennium, farmers are starting the growing season with far less water than they need. With their water allocations dramatically slashed, some crop growers arefallowing large portions of their land. Ranchers, whose pastures are nearly barren, are selling off cattle since they have nothing to feed them. Because the affected region accounts for about a third of the monetary value of U.S. agricultural production, these cutbacks could have serious implications for food availability and prices.
There are also concerns that the drought could contribute to another bad wildfire season, after 2020’s record-setting blazes burned millions of acres. The abundance of dried-out vegetation can quickly become kindling if it comes in contact with a lightning strike, a stray cigarette butt, or an out-of-hand campfire. If that were to happen, it could compound the pressures of the drought by destroying buildings and machinery, ruining crops with smoke, and threatening the respiratory health of farmers and farm workers.
If you are a farmer or rancher who is experiencing crop or livestock loss due to drought conditions, you may be eligible for support through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Find more information about their disaster assistance programs here.

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