Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Alarming Number of Disasters Striking World "Food Baskets"
- Huge number of disasters that have occurred just in the first 4 months of 2011. "Never, ever, have I seen so many federally declared disasters this early in the year." In DHS/FEMA maps, map after map, state after state, were mostly colored yellow signifying disasters. There is hardly any crop region that hasn't experienced a natural disaster in 2011. It paints a very unsettling picture. Disasters are striking the heart of our food growing regions. Many food crops have been wiped out by drought, flood, hail and freezes. These food destroyers are occurring in greater frequency and having larger impact. America's food belts are taking mighty hits. Some growing areas will not recover this entire year.
If you don't have clean water and food, civilization will quickly disintegrate around you. In the 2007-2008 food riots across the globe, we witnessed a mere taste of what to expect. The only difference is that WE, Americans and Canadians, enjoyed these precious commodities of bread, wheat, soybeans, corn – the staples of food supplies – without interruption. Countries that suffered natural disasters combined with economic catastrophe were either too poor to import these necessities or there was none to be had.
America is one of THE largest food exporters. Now supplies in our country are getting creamed with one weather event after another. Crops are either hammered by drought or literally inundated by FEET of water. Some farmers still can't get their crops in the ground because the land is too soggy - never mind the 3 MILLION acres that are now submerged due to the unending, unmerciful rain and flooding in the Midwest. Still there is no let-up in sight. Many farmers' crops are wiped for this entire year. There will be no second shot at planting.
Unprecedented freezes took a lot of Mexico's produce that supplies huge quantities of fresh fruits and veggies to North America. On a lesser scale, late spring freezes have wiped out Colorado's apricots and California also took a hit on their produce.Conversely, Texas, one of the backbone states for cattle, is experiencing the worst drought in decades forcing ranchers to sell herds early. In the short term, this will plummet the cost of beef, but next year, when cattlemen try to replenish herds, prices will be at a premium and you, the consumer, will see these huge price increases at the butcher. Last year we watched in disbelief as Russia suffered massive drought that brought raging fires to their country. Russia who is usually a large grain supplier, not only placed a year-long ban on exports, but they were forced to purchase grain from other countries. By the end of last year, they'd lost nearly 40% of their crops and imported 3.5 million tonnes of grain. The export ban is in effect at least through this July. Last year in Australia, another huge food producer, was struck with massive rains. These floods crippled food supplies. Today, conditions are reversed. Drought rears its head again.
Corn planting in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, is advancing at half of last year’s pace because of excess rain, government data show. The Canadian Wheat Board said fields are so muddy that only 3 percent of grain has been sown, compared with 40 percent normally. At the same time, drought left the Kansas wheat crop in the worst shape since 1996, and dry spells are threatening crops in France, Western Australia and China. The U.S. winter-wheat harvest, which begins next month, probably will total 1.387 billion bushels, the least in five years. The crop in Kansas, the biggest U.S. grower of winter varieties, may shrink by 29 percent from last year because of drought. The dry spell in Texas, the No. 2 grower of winter wheat last year, means the state may produce two-thirds less than normal. Central Kansas had less than 25 percent of normal rainfall in the past 30 days, while parts of Oklahoma and Texas had less than 5 percent. In Minnesota and North Dakota, the biggest spring-wheat grower, farmers face planting delays after receiving twice the normal amount of precipitation in the past month. Parts of the Ohio River Valley and the Mississippi River Delta have had up to four times the normal amount of moisture. In a report tomorrow, the U.S. Department of Agriculture probably will cut its forecast of global corn reserves before this year's Northern Hemisphere harvest to 122.5 million metric tons, the lowest in four years. The U.S. is the world's biggest exporter of corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton.
Dry weather in France and Germany and the U.K.’s hottest April in at least 352 years are threatening crops across the European Union, producer of one-fifth of the world's wheat. Less than a year after the worst drought in a generation destroyed one-third of Russia's wheat crop and sent global food prices surging, more bad weather is damaging fields from North America to Europe to Asia. Parts of Western Australia have had the lowest rainfall on record for the past 16 months. The government in Manitoba, Canada, has declared a state of emergency because of floods. Wheat output in China, the world's biggest consumer, may decline for a second straight year because of dry conditions. (maps)

**When distant and unfamilar and complex things
are communicated to great masses of people,
the truth suffers a considerable and often radical distortion.
The complex is made over into the simple,
the hypothetical into the dogmatic,
and the relative into an absolute.**
Walter Lippmann
[dogmatic = an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles]

This morning -

Yesterday -

No current tropical storms.


U.S. - Mississippi floods: Thousands flee as floodgates open. Thousands have evacuated the US state of Louisiana after floodgates were opened on Saturday to relieve pressure from the swollen Mississippi River. More floodgates are to be opened in the coming days to help save more populated areas like Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The man-made floods will damage thousands of homes and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.
Sheriff's deputies and National Guardsmen have been knocking on the front doors of residents along the Mississippi River in Louisiana since Saturday and ordering them to leave. Most residents heeded the warnings and headed for higher ground; by Monday, some areas were virtually empty as the water from the Mississippi River slowly rolled across the Atchafalaya River basin. Opening the Morganza Spillway floodgates is set to inundate up to 3,000 sq miles (7,770 sq km) of land in an attempt to protect large cities along the Mississippi River, which forms a large section of the border between Louisiana and Mississippi states. It will be at least a week before the peak of the Mississippi River arrives at the spillway, where officials opened two massive gates on Saturday and another two on Sunday. There are 125 gates in total.
Fed by rainwater and the spring thaw, the Mississippi and its tributaries have caused massive flooding upstream, and officials have said the flooding in Louisiana is the worst since 1927. Water will flow south, but slowly to give people enough time to leave before the flood waters reach them. The flood waters are expected to inundate homes and farms in the state's Cajun country under an expected 10-20ft (3-7m) of water. The Morganza Spillway, 45 miles (72km) north-west of Baton Rouge, was last opened in 1973. The spillway stands above the Mississippi's normal water level, and comes into play only when the Mississippi is already swollen and endangering the surrounding areas. By opening its floodgates, engineers are able to control the flow of the flood waters, diverting them around Baton Rouge into the Atchafalaya river basin, a low-lying area of central Louisiana. Over several days, the water should run south to Morgan City - where workers are rushing to reinforces levees - and then into the Gulf of Mexico. Opening all 125 gates on the spillway would release 600,000 cubic ft of water every second.
Meanwhile, the US Army Corps of Engineers moved a fifth dredge to dig sediment out of the Southwest Pass, a major shipping connection between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, in an effort to keep it open. The Mississippi sends large amounts of sediment down river when its water levels are higher than normal, and the dredges were being used on Monday to keep the channel open. Shipping is expected to continue largely unhindered in the lower Mississippi River. Seven states are affected by the continuing floods. (map)


CANADA - Thousands flee as wildfires destroy town. More than 1000 Canadian firefighters were today battling wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some 7000 residents and destroyed 40 per cent of the town of Slave Lake in Alberta. The fires - the first of which began Saturday afternoon local time - cover a 700ha area and have already destroyed Slave Lake's town hall, mall and countless businesses downtown, with authorities saying that the situation was not yet under control. "I watched the whole town burn in probably three to four hours. As soon as (the fire) hit it was roof to roof."
About 70000 residents fled to evacuation shelters in the provincial capital Edmonton 240km away, as well as centers in Athabasca and Westlock after they were ordered to leave Sunday afternoon local time. A separate gym in Athabasca was established for pets. IT WAS THE LAREST SINGLE-DAY DISPLACEMENT OF PEOPLE IN THE PROVINCE'S HISTORY. "This is the worst curve ball nature has thrown at us in recent memory... this is by far the largest (natural disaster) that has affected so many people."Up to 95 per cent of residents complied with the order to leave and police were blocking all access into the town, while a force of firefighters, aided by 100 helicopters and 20 air tankers, fought out-of-control flames.
Authorities said 115 fires - including 36 considered out-of-control - were currently burning in the area and weather conditions were hampering the work of firefighters. “We’ve been working hard by battling these fires, but the winds keep on working against us. Hopefully, the winds will die down some time this evening so we can get a better hold on these fires.”
As the flames continued to wreck havoc in Alberta, some energy companies in the area temporarily ceased operations. Penn West Exploration stopped its production of between 25,000 and 30,000 barrels of oil per day. Exall Energy Corp also shut in 921 barrels of oil equivalent daily production at its Marten Mountain site. Other energy companies - such as Canadian Natural Resources and Horizon Oil Sands - said their plants were not affected by the wildfires and work was continuing.
Authorities have yet to identify the cause of the wildfires, but it was believed that weather conditions were a factor in spreading the blazes. As today, no deaths were reported.


The grape tomato recall widens -
-Mann Packing is voluntarily recalling certain vegetable platters and Snacks on the Go product because the grape tomato ingredient may be contaminated with Salmonella. This recall has expanded to include Safeway’s Eating Right Veggie Party Platter.
-Grape tomatoes being recalled were used in a variety of products made by Taylor Farms Pacific for Albertsons, Raley’s, Safeway, Savemart, Sam’s Club & Walmart .

-Flowers Foods Issues Voluntary Recall on Certain English Muffins and One Bread Item as they may contain small pieces of metal.
-Goodness Gardens, Inc. of New Hampton, NY is voluntarily recalling Chives Lot # 0201111, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
-Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. is recalling the Entenmann's brand bagged Pop'Ems donuts and Bimbo brand 8 pack Donitas donuts sold in the some states because they may develop an uncharacteristic smell and become moldy.
-Officials at the Arkansas Department of Health announced that test results on a sample taken from certain lots of Mountain Pure bottled drinking water show the presence of biological contamination. The company has announced a voluntary recall of lots marked with a four-digit time code.