Sep 1, 2021 - Economy

Extreme weather adds to crop issues

chart of historical corn prices
S&P Capital IQ; Chart: Axios Visuals

This year’s extreme weather, caused by climate change, is impacting crops to extremes that farmers haven't seen in their lifetimes.

Catch up quick: Prolonged heat waves and droughts have caused this year's corn, soybean, almond, honey, citrus and avocado production to crash and prices to skyrocket.

  • Hurricane Ida dealt the latest blow: Key agricultural ports in New Orleans are now shut, trapping corn, grain and soy exports — this time sending futures contracts down in expectation of a supply glut.

Why it matters: Some farmers, already hard hit by the health and economic effects of COVID-19, are debating whether they should continue farming at all

What they're saying: “In a normal year we might see one hot spell, or we might see one dry spell, or one cold spell, we’ve had all those this year,” Mark Mueller, director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, told KCRG in Cedar Rapids.

By the numbers: The median prices of corn and soybeans remain near their highest points this year. In the late spring, they'd risen nearly 63% and 48%, respectively, since August 2020, according to S&P Capital IQ. 

  • The price of wheat rose about 40% since last year but has since come down a bit.

The big picture: Hunger was already on the rise before the pandemic. The world can't afford food production issues when the health crisis and supply chain-related problems haven't yet been resolved.

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