Jun 18, 2019

Corn plantings reach 40-year low as record flooding crushes farmers

Photo: Robert Michael/picture alliance via Getty Images

Domestic plantings of corn have stalled to their slowest pace in 40 years as a result of adverse weather conditions, the Washington Post reports, citing data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Why it matters: May 2018 to April 2019 was the wettest 12-month period on record for the Lower 48 states, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. May 2019 itself was also the second-wettest month alone in the U.S. since 1895. The torrential downpours have flooded American farmland, particularly in the Midwest, and making a greater proportion of crops unviable compared to past planting seasons.

Details: Some individual regions have seen especially low planting levels. In Ohio, just 68% of potential corn acres have been planted, followed by South Dakota at 78% and Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri and Illinois trailing in the 80% range.

  • Other crops are struggling as well. Soybean plantings only reached 77% of intended acreage in the 18 states evaluated by the USDA, with numbers as low as 46% for Ohio and 53% for Michigan. Sunflowers are also struggling, with 56% of potential acres planted in South Dakota, 58% in Kansas and 61% in Colorado.

The big picture: Farmers are facing one of the worst economic crises in 30 years as a result of low commodity prices and trade war pressures. As of May, the Trump administration had made $8.52 billion in direct payments to farmers through a 2018 aid program designed to counter losses from the trade war.

Go deeper: Historic flooding hits the Midwest, costing farmers millions

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Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship

Thomas Modly. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday after apologizing for comments he made about Capt. Brett Crozier, who was removed when a letter he wrote pleading with the Navy to address the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was leaked to the press. The resignation was first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: The controversy over Crozier's removal was exacerbated after audio leaked of Modly's address to the crew, in which he said Crozier was either "too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this." After initially backing Modly's decision, President Trump said at a briefing Monday that he would "get involved."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,407,123— Total deaths: 81,103 — Total recoveries: 297,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 386,800 — Total deaths: 12,285 — Total recoveries: 20,191Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week
  4. Public health latest: Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. World latest: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  6. Wisconsin primary in photos: Thousands gathered to cast ballots in-person during the height of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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America's food heroes

Photos: Charlie Riedel/AP (L); Brent Stirton/Getty Images

The people who grow, process and keep food stocked on shelves are doing heroic work in these conditions, often for bottom-barrel pay.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans don't have the luxury of working from home, and it's essential that food workers keep working so we can keep eating.

Go deeperArrow20 mins ago - Health