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Tightening the Belt

My esteemed co-religionist Hecate has an intersting post she calls Do You Have A Freezer?. In it she takes a look at what the current summer's heat wave is doing in Europe. For instance

Interesting report from BBC concerning the effect of global climate change on harvests in the UK. Production of perishable fruits, such as strawberries, appears to be up, as is demand, driven by, what one imagines, must be lower prices. However, "the grain harvest is likely to be badly hit."

Thus, "wheat has wilted in the intense conditions. Sandra Nichols of the NFU said: "For wheat, we're seeing at the moment that the lack of moisture in the soil has caused problems in terms of the quality of the wheat. "The grains are thinner, the yields are not so good, and that could lead to higher prices."" Wheat, of course, is far less perishable than strawberries.

Hmm. Okay, all true, but a bit far away don'tcha think? They get a bit exciteable over on that side of the pond. We, sturdy and bountiful America, breadbasket of the world, amber waves of grain and all that, we have no such concerns, right? We might slightly envy strawberry surpluses, but a shortage of wheat? Perish the thought, for we will always have Enough, and then some.

Eh, but here we see a matter a bit closer to home. From Wednesday's Jackson MS Clarion-Ledger:

Heat stress brought on by a lack of rain will cause reduced yields for some Mississippi row crops, preliminary harvests have shown....

Some areas of the Delta, however, are looking really bad, said Leroy Smith, president of the Mississippi Chapter of the National Black Farmers Association.

"Some of the crops are in pretty bad shape. In some places I have gotten reports that they are cutting 10 bushels (of soybeans). In other places 20 to 25. Soybeans and corn have just about had it."

Soybeans typically produce more than 30 bushels per acre.

Most interesting, perhaps, line in the whole piece:

"The corn has been hurt substantially. What rain we received lately has come too late to help the crop. We'll have some serious yield reductions," said Erick Larson, Extension Service grain specialist with Mississippi State University Plant and Soil Sciences Department. "It died because of severe drought stress. Its maturity was accelerated, so it cannibalized the energy out of the stalk and the leaves and tried to put it into the kernels."

Logically, since most soybeans and corn goes to feeding livestock, we should switch livestock back to feed which cannot be digested by humans, i.e. grass. Instead, the NYT tells us, they are changing the labeling rules for same:

THE Agriculture Department has proposed allowing animals to be labeled grass-fed even if they never saw a pasture and were fed antibiotics and hormones.

When Martin E. O’Connor, chief of the standardization branch of the department’s livestock and feed program, explained the proposed rule at a conference of the American Grassfed Association in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, members were angry.

They ain't the only ones. We are surrounded by, and governed by, idiots. Best look into methods of preserving those squash, Lambert, they combine the virtues of being nutritious and at the same time low on the target priorities of looters if famine mobs start to sweep the land.

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