Is the noose tightening on the world’s food supplies?  No one can say for sure that it is, but at the same time, no one can deny that it may be.  There’s no question that many unusual things have been happening to America’s farms and those around the world, and a quick review of some of these events will remind and update readers about them.  This way they can decide for themselves. 

Last winter was an exceptionally snowy one in much of the nation’s heartland, and when the warm weather finally arrived, those snows melted.  Nothing unusual about that - it happens almost every year.  But all the melting snow, combined with exceptionally rainy weather, created unprecedented flooding. 

Many millions of acres of farmlands were flooded, ruining crops that had already been planted, and preventing others from being planted.  Thousands of farmers were forced into bankruptcy.  Millions of bushels of wheat, corn and soybeans were destroyed.  And so were hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of livestock.  The combination of these events led to the worst agricultural disaster in America in modern times.

But Mother Nature was not done - not by a long shot.  Last fall, farmers planting winter crops were slammed once again, this time by early season snowstorms that destroyed many crops and brought the planting season to an early end. 

All Fired Up

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, horrific wildfires in Australia, caused by extreme drought and arson, are taking a toll on that nation’s farms and will result in higher prices for beef, lamb, wheat, and dairy for consumers in many countries.

Remember California’s wildfires last year?  They destroyed more than two million acres, a number that shocked people everywhere.  But the carnage in Australia is much worse.  According to Fox News, as of January 2, 2020, Australia’s wildfires burned areas 80 times larger and they still haven’t been extinguished.

Australia is a major exporter of wheat, and much of that crop has been destroyed.  There are also less obvious but significant effects from the fires on food supplies from pollutants, which can hurt crops hundreds of miles away. Timothy Childs, a former NASA engineer who now heads his own engineering company, warned that “those pollutants will reduce plant growth and productivity.”

Moreover, added Childs, a billion or more animals have died because of the wildfires, a statistic shocking not only to environmentalists, but also to industry and consumers, since Australia is the second largest exporter of beef and veal in the world.  The wildfires have also damaged Australia’s dairy industry.

Of Biblical Proportions

If this weren’t enough, a gargantuan plague of locusts is devastating farms in Africa and in the Middle East.  According to the Daily Mail, an estimated 360 billion of them are eating everything in sight, and U.N. officials are warning that this plague could become many times worse in the coming months.

Here’s how one website described the crisis: “Desert locusts can travel up to 93 miles a day, and each adult can consume the equivalent of its own weight in food every 24 hours.  These voracious little creatures are traveling in absolutely colossal swarms that are up to 40 miles wide, and they continue to push into new areas.  If urgent action is not taken on a massive scale, millions upon millions of people could soon have next to nothing to eat.”

Pakistan just declared a national emergency because these locusts are creating “unprecedented” havoc.  Swarms in Saudi Arabia have been so thick that at times they’ve completely blocked out the sun, and it’s been estimated that some of the locusts are traveling in swarms that are bigger than the city of Rome.

According to the Daily Mail, the 360 billion locusts in this plague could increase astronomically.  U.N. experts warn that “if left unchecked, the number of locusts could grow by 500 times by June” and locust swarms could soon create chaos in additional countries such as India. 

A Losing Battle

While China is working at a feverish pace to contain the coronavirus from spreading, it is also battling a different virus: swine flu.  And at this point it has been fighting a losing battle. 

Global AgriTrends estimates that about two-thirds of China’s swine herd has died because of this disease and more animals are being infected as the disease continues to spread.  

Before swine flu caused so much devastation, about half of all the pigs in the world were located in China, and 700 million were slaughtered for the food supply every year.  But so many pigs have died that pork production there has plunged.  As a result, the price of pork has reached an all-time high, and food inflation is soaring.

Swine flu has spread to other countries in the region, including North Korea, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.  It’s been estimated that more than one out of every four pigs in the world has already died from this swine flu.   

Meanwhile, bird flu has returned to China.  According to the Daily Mail, nearly 18,000 chickens have been culled in an effort to keep the disease from spreading.  Hopefully, these efforts will be successful, because in addition to the obvious problems it could unleash, this strain of bird flu can be transmitted to humans.  As this article is being written, there is news that bird flu has been found in a facility in India.

In any given year, floods, drought, and extreme weather take a toll on crops.  This happens all the time.   But when extreme weather is compounded by plagues and various types of flu break out all around the world at the same time and take such a heavy toll on the food supply, this is very unusual. 

The combination of these events is bizarre, to say the least.  Is it time to try to figure out why all of this is happening?  Is there a message we should learn from these astonishing developments?  Or should we dismiss these events as part of the natural course of the world and not read anything into them?  We’ll leave it to readers to answer these questions for themselves.


Gerald Harris is a financial and feature writer. Gerald can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.