U.S. western agricultural states getting hammered by drought
DENVER, July 25 (Xinhua) — Farmers and scientists in North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota are praying for rain and preparing for a drought that could cripple the region for decades.
"I’ve driven through areas where you would expect to see a spindly wheat stand, but there’s no crop left — it’s gone," Watne said.
The three large western states near the Canadian border possess in total 763,678 square km of mostly flat farmland, and are three of the top four wheat-producing states in the country, according to Statista, one of the world’s leading online statistics databases.
U.S. Drought Monitor data released last week showed 50 percent of North Dakota in extreme or severe drought, 30 percent of South Dakota, and 20 percent of Montana.
In fact, 11 of the past 14 years have seen drought in much of the American West, from California across to Texas and Oklahoma, according to the Monitor.
At the same time, neighboring North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum declared a drought emergency.
Agriculture in North Dakota is an 11-billion-dollar a year industry, and the state leads the nation in the production of nearly a dozen crops.
In South Dakota, the Drought Monitor showed 82 percent of the state in some stage of drought, up from 72 percent in the previous week.
The severe conditions in America’s West had historians and farmers remembering the drought and "Dust Bowl" of the 1930s, considered the worst agricultural disaster in American history.
"We see some of those impacts going on now in California," said Cook, referring to the ongoing drought that is the worst in state history.