Thunder, when rain is needed

I’ll be the first to admit I love a good thunderstorm. Even though I know the science of thunder and lightning and understand the dangers it can bring, I can’t help but anticipate those storms.

However, the storm this past week packed a bigger punch than I expected, and a little over two days without power gave me some time to think about the impact of weather on agriculture.

When we think about weather and agriculture, we often think directly about rain. After all, too much rain and plants drown, and too little rain and plants dry up. However, rain isn’t the only weather condition that impacts agriculture. Snow, hurricanes, tornadoes, wind storms, hail and other weather-related issues impact agriculture almost daily, and those losses come at a steep price.

The American Farm Bureau decided to look at the losses in agriculture, specifically crop loss, in 2022 caused by weather. It found more than $21.4 billion was lost during 18 major weather events during the 2022 calendar year. Each weather event caused over $1 billion worth of damages, and 2022 was the third-most expensive disaster year in history. While $11 billion was covered by Risk Management Programs, over $10 billion was not covered, and farmers were left to deal with the loss.

These losses are limited to traditional field crops like corn, grain and other row crops. Horticulture, infrastructure, livestock and timber losses are considered their own separate entities and do not count toward these numbers.

Wildfires, fed by droughts, raging in California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama and several other states have accounted for almost $21 billion in total crop loss. Additionally, major losses were attributed to hurricanes, hail and flooding, with a little over $1 billion in losses for each weather event.

However, individual weather events can be much more costly when the entire scope of agriculture is viewed. For example, the University of Florida estimates that Hurricane Ian in September 2022 cost the state over $1 billion across all agricultural areas. Of course, certain states are more prone to severe weather than others. States like Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota suffered far more weather-related crop destruction than places like Pennsylvania or Ohio. Yet, weather destruction can happen anywhere.

While we watch the news and live these new weather experiences, traditionally resilient farmers are beginning to see new and unique weather patterns that challenge agriculture production. From no-till farming practices to high-tech systems that track weeds and pests and use less fertilizer and pesticides, farming is becoming a high-stakes science that is waging war against an unpredictable foe with unlimited strength and the power of surprise.

Like all good superhero movies, we always hope the good guy wins. However, in the battle between Mother Nature and the farmer, there is no good guy and no bad guy. The almost 2 million family-owned farms in America each feed 166 people at home and abroad, according to the American Farm Bureau. With the number of people expected to rise globally to 2.2 billion by 2050, American farmers must produce almost 70% more food than they do now, the AFB estimates.

Farmers, scientists and society will have to work together to achieve these lofty goals to feed the world as the weather becomes more explosive, dangerous and destructive.

Meanwhile, I’m going to hide those ruby red slippers that showed up on my door Friday morning. I have a weird feeling about them.

Submitted by Christen Clemson, a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau, who completed her Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her family farm in Mecca.


OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Suggested Tags: