From 2019 to 2022, drought ruined much of the agriculture industry in California. According to a UC Merced study, farms lost 750,000 acres of what was once productive land. “California is no stranger to drought, but this current drought has hit really hard in some of the typically water-rich parts of the state that are essential for the broader state water supply,” said Professor John Abatzoglou. The hardest-hit parts of California’s agriculture industry have not recovered, and the drought, based on trajectory, continues to worsen.
On a smaller scale, the same thing is happening now in Mississippi.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that northwest Mississippi suffers from what is known as “exceptional drought,” which is defined as “ the most severe drought, with the worst conditions on record. It would only be expected to occur once or twice within a 100‐year period.”
Several cattle farmers describe the drought as the worst in half a century. Some have elected to sell their entire herds and close their businesses. And things could get worse. State Climatologist and Mississippi State University Professor of Meteorology Mike Brown said the drought may not end even with modest rainfall. He commented: “About 25% of the state is going to need between 24-26 inches of rain—that’s almost double the normal amount of expected rainfall—to replenish groundwater before spring planting. If it stays dry, it would be useless to plant.”
Successful Farming reports that among the few solutions to the catastrophe is for farmers to move their herds out of the state entirely. Once relocated, there may be little reason to return. This is happening worldwide; farms are hit by climate change, and farmers have few options.
The Mississippi drought is an example of a drought that does not have to cover hundreds of thousands of square miles to damage or destroy an entire industry badly.