A few weeks ago in my column, “Dodging a bullet in 2020,” I stated: “American and global agriculture has dodged a bullet regarding drought-like conditions for 20 of the past 22 years and for five of the past years in a row. I do not believe another bullet can be dodged.”
This week, I wish to present some of the historic weather scenarios that unfolded in early 2019 through and including this week. Basically, I am issuing another warning about the problems that may very well surface in the growing season of 2020 for U.S. farmers and ranchers. I remain concerned about the growing season in 2020.
In February 2019, record-setting weather events illustrated clearly how wild and unpredictable Mother Nature can be. The information below are my words, but taken liberally from USA Today in an article from March 2019 entitled “Freaky February.” It was a wild, weird month for weather, encompassing heat, cold, snow and rain.
In Downtown Los Angeles, the temperature never reached 70 degrees the entire month, the first time that happened in 132 years. At the same time, the north-central United States endured brutal weather with parts of Montana and South Dakota shivering through the coldest February since record keeping began. Rapid City had 20 days of subzero temperatures. The northern and western states saw February temperatures average 3.5 degree below average.
In the Midwest, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska endured the snowiest February in history. In the South, snow was not seen, but Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, had the wettest February on record. Large parts of Mississippi and Alabama also set records for wet weather.
Now, fast forward to the spring of 2019 and from Wikipedia, entitled “2019 Midwestern U.S. floods”: “The Midwestern United States has been experiencing major floods since mid-March 2019, primarily along the Missouri River and its tributaries in Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas. The Mississippi River has also seen flooding, although starting later and ending earlier. The 2019 January-to-May period was the wettest on record for the U.S., with multiple severe weather outbreaks through May in the Midwest, High Plains and South exacerbating the flooding and causing additional damage. Throughout late May and early June, rain in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri caused every site on the Mississippi River to record a top-five crest.”
And from ABC News this week comes a headline that says it all: “Severe arctic blast brings coldest air to Midwest in decades.” According to the article, 70% of the U.S. population is expected to see temperatures at or below freezing with 300 weather records being broken that are 100 years old. That was for this week!
However, what really caught my attention, causing me more angst about the 2020 growing season, is this article from finance.yahoo.com entitled “Fed warns climate change is biggest threat to the U.S. economy”: “Speaking at the GARP Global Risk Forum, N.Y. Fed executive vice president Kevin Stiroh warned in his prepared remarks that climate change — not, say, asset bubbles created by his employer — is a major threat that risk managers can’t ignore.”
Stiroh goes on to say, “The U.S. economy has experienced more than $500 billion in direct losses over the last five years due to climate- and weather-related events. In addition, climate change has significant consequences for the U.S. economy and financial sector through slowing productivity growth, asset revaluations and sectoral reallocations of business activity.”
And the same article stated loud and clear: “In other words, it’s only a matter of time before the Fed blames the weather for the next great, ‘unexpected’ crisis… which like the bubbles of 2001 and 2008 was entirely the Fed’s doing.”
Weeks ago, I expressed concern that grain and livestock producers may not “dodge a bullet in the growing season of 2020.” It now seems the Federal Reserve has concerns, as well.
Not the USDA, not the National Weather Service, but the Federal Reserve. Imagine that for just one moment.
But yours truly and the Fed may be wrong about the weather. It would not be the first time we were both wrong.
Then again, we both may be right. Only time will tell.
And, of course, Mother Nature.