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What Happens When it Stops Raining – The Australian Drought

Touch the Soil News #1109 (Feature photo – Drought in Australia – CCA SA 2.0 Generic) Called the nation’s food bowl, the eastern parts of Australia are experiencing a lack of rainfall that is unprecedented. The wheat crop in the province of New South Wales will be about one-third of the average. New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and produces ¼ of Australia’s agricultural value. Drought aid is now in the billions of dollars. The severity of the drought makes one wonder if extreme weather conditions – which have also impacted the United States – are the new normal? Want More? – Sign up below Special Deals Ahead…Sign…

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Desalinated Water, Winter Wheat and Potatoes

Touch the Soil News #1016 (Feature photo – Carlsbad Desalination Plant – CCA SA 3.0 Unported) The USDA reports that the U.S. winter wheat crop is one of the worst in history (due to drought) and cause for further economic pain as farmers face some of the lowest prices relative to input costs. The world is a long way from taking control of farming as the planet delivers uncertainty as populations continue their trajectory of expansion. Coastal cities in California are attempting to build more desalination plants as availability of water continues along an uncertain path. It costs $2,000 to $3,000 to desalinate one acre-foot of water – 348,000 gallons.…

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North Korea Is Under Attack – But Not Militarily

Touch the Soil News #768 (photo courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization) News of North Korea’s ongoing belligerence can be a costly game. This is particularly true if you lose your focus on food in favor of competing with the world’s richest nations on military expenditures – a competition that North Korea will never win. North Korea is being hit with one of the worst droughts in its history – sending agricultural production plummeting. Monsoon rains which underpin agricultural production in North Korea have been materially down – a situation that cannot be mitigated by North Korea’s limited water storage and insufficient irrigation infrastructure. According to a joint study…

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Less Water = Food Tremors

Touch the Soil News #762 (feature photo – drought stunted corn crop – USDA photo) There have been a number of stories floating around the media that suggest a larger event is lurking between the cracks. Following are a few of the pieces:   Researchers at MIT warn of reducing availability of water for cotton and forage (hay). Hay is the foundational crop for meat animals. The area of concern is the Southwest. Now, the Southwest is huge and includes the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – an area equal to almost 1/3 of the U.S. land mass. Drought trends could push yields in…

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Free Market Dangers to Food

Touch the Soil News #691 (Photo- Senzeni Zokwana – South African Minister of Agriculture faces huge challenges – CC SA 4.0)) While public discussions are infrequent, the issue of whether or not the realm of food should be removed from free markets and competition is not new. The issue goes deeper than just the free-market concept. All economic efforts – be they individual or business – must first be translated into dollars. Somewhere along the path where free-market concepts and the financial sector intertwine, things can go awry. They can go awry, because neither the free market nor financial world knows how to react to real world issues such as…

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Will 2017 be the year of Famine?

Touch the Soil News #689 (feature photo CC SA 4.0) While it is something we wish we could just avoid, folks at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are getting uncomfortable to say the least. While reports in recent years have suggested that global hunger is in retreat, 2017 is changing that. The FAO just released a 2017 Food Crisis Report. Globally, in 2016, 108 million people were facing serious food crisis. This represents a dramatic increase to 2015, when some 80 million people were categorized as facing serious food crisis. An increase of 35 percent in the number of people facing serious food crisis over…

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The FAO Reports on Global Food Tremors

Touch the Soil News #614 The FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations keeps tabs on global food tremors. While some of the issues may be far from home, our interconnected world – politically, socially and ecologically acts like dominoes – we simply cannot completely separate ourselves from ourselves. So, here are some of the food tremors unfolding: Wheat Rust. It’s a fungal disease that is pushing the edges of an epidemic. New strains of wheat rust are popping up around the world and in recent times. Areas vulnerable to wheat rust account for approximately 37 percent of global wheat production (see video below). Cost of basic…

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Almonds for 10.5 million Americans Taken out of Production

Touch the Soil News #342 The U.S. is the world’s largest almond producer. California is the largest almond producing state. With prices more than 1/3 below historical averages and severe water shortages in California, a big hit is coming. The nation’s largest almond grower – Wonderful Orchards – recently announced it was taking out 10,000 acres of almonds due to water constraints and poor prices. One acre of almond trees produces about 2,100 lbs. of almonds a year. Americans eat an average of 2 lbs. of almonds a year. The 10,000-acre curtailment of almond orchards represents the annual consumption of 10.5 million Americans. It’s hard to imagine taking a buldozer…

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