It’s hard to talk about food and hunger without considering its growth and production. This year, much of the United States has experienced an extended winter and greater precipitation which has resulted in a delayed planting season. This of course is a far different story than last year, where drought took hold throughout much of the country.
The USDA has released some interesting data compairing the percentage of crops in the ground this year to last year at the same time (as well as averages over the past four years). For example, 18 states (which planted 92% of corn acreage in 2012) had an average of 26% of their corn crop in the ground at this time last year. This year farmers have planted an average of 4% of their corn. The biggest difference in the example of corn is Illinois, which had 56% of its corn crop in the ground by April 21 last year and only 1% in the ground this year.
As far as what this means for food prices, insurance, and other matters, I’ll leave that to the experts. For those of you who are professionals in this area, please feel free to comment, we’d love to hear from you. In a brief story on Harvest Public Media one farmer comments:
“It’s just crazy that one year is one way and one is another,” Smart said. “But we’ve had this before so we’ll have it again. And as I said, we don’t have to go to Las Vegas to gamble because farming is the biggest gamble there is.”
I’ve easily made the connection that farming is providing food, but the farming and gambling connection has been more on the periphery. But after considering it, I hope to appreciate the fruits of the labor, calculation, or guess even more.
Henry Martinez serves as an educational associate for ELCA World Hunger.