Oct 12, 2019

Southern "flash drought” drags on

Phillips County, Arkansas on Sept. 28, 2019. Southern Arkansas is experiencing abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein via Getty Images

High temperatures and fast-acting dry spells in the South reported last week have boiled over into a "flash drought" blasting 56 million people with dry heat, AP reports.

What's happening: Parts of Georgia, Texas, Alabama and South Carolina are currently in extreme drought zones, while most of the South is in an abnormally dry or moderate to severe drought. Farmers are concerned "that cattle, cotton and corn are suffering after a summer of record highs and very little rain," per AP.

  • Rain in the Southeast became scarce approximately 10 weeks ago, the New York Times reports.
  • Most fields in affected states — like Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and West Virginia — are in either poor or very poor condition, according to the latest crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What's next: The monthly U.S. drought outlook indicates the drought is expected to persist through October in most affected states.

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U.S. to distribute $800 million in aid to southern farmers hit by 2018 hurricanes

Photo: Wan Zhen/VCG via Getty Images

The federal government will distribute $800 million in aid to farmers in Florida, Alabama and Georgia that were hit by hurricanes Michael and Florence last year, the Department of Agriculture announced on Friday.

The big picture: The department will distribute the money in grants as part of a $3 billion disaster aid package approved by Congress earlier this year to help communities recovering from a variety of natural disasters. The aid will help agricultural producers in southern states "get back on their feet and prepare for next year’s planting and harvest," per Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Go deeperArrowNov 8, 2019

A look at this season's college basketball storylines

College basketball's ultimate focus on March Madness provides a calming escape from the life-and-death nature of college football — so it's a good thing that beginning Tuesday we have both to choose from.

The big picture: With Michigan State heading up the men's poll and Oregon on top of the women's, there are a slew of storylines to follow as the season kicks off.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

USDA's silence on climate crisis makes little sense to farmers

Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration's resistance to addressing climate change is exacerbating the Department of Agriculture's mostly unsuccessful attempts to help farmers cope with extreme weather, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Farmers and ranchers are already reckoning with the impacts of climate change today in their businesses, making federal action (or inaction) on the issue especially relevant.

Go deeperArrowOct 15, 2019