The Drought Monitor shows the same pattern as last week but with intensification of the dry pattern. Most of Barton, Stafford, Pawnee, Rice, and Reno Counties are in moderate drought and the warmer, windier conditions are exacerbating the problem. As this is being written, the weekend indicates a chance of precipitation but likely not enough to make much of a difference. Cooler temperatures would at least mitigate the deteriorating soil conditions. The six to ten-day outlook (Nov. 25 to 29) indicates above temperatures for the state. Precipitation should be below normal and normal isn’t much to begin with. The eight to 14 day outlook (Nov. 27 to Dec. 3) indicates more of the same. The La Nina effects are definitely building in.
This week is Thanksgiving and while it is certainly a bit more difficult than normal with all that is going on to give thanks for many. One thing we can all be thankful for is the price of our Thanksgiving dinner.
• The Farm Bureau annual survey indicates Thanksgiving dinner should be about four percent cheaper than last year. They calculate a dinner for ten this year should cost about $46.90 or less than five dollars per person and $2.01 less than last year. When you consider that in many countries more than 50 percent of many household incomes goes for food, that’s pretty remarkable. Turkey prices are down 7% from last year. Part of this is stores using turkey as a loss leader. Part is increased efficiency of the poultry sector and lower feed prices. And lower prices are true of many Thanksgiving staples such as sweet potatoes and whipping cream.
• They also indicate that while food stuffs and other household items have seen shortages and less than reliable supplies since March, there are adequate supplies for this Thursday but the distribution may lead to spot shortages.
• None of this is to deny many in our country are dealing with food insecurity and food deserts. Food insecurity has been a problem for many for years, however, many who have never dealt with this issue are now due to the pandemic. This year with the pandemic, estimates indicate almost 1 in 4 households have experienced food insecurity up the around 1 in 10 from 2019. This has affected children the most and again exacerbated as many children receive their meals from school and schools have worked hard to keep the supply up. Last year, pre-pandemic, over 38,000,000 used SNAP benefits, the majority working poor. Use of SNAP increased 17% from this past February to May. And it is estimated that over 19,000,000 million of you live in food deserts with limited food access.
• The plus side is that those of us with means have the availability to help provide food for those in need. Everything from local food pantries and shelters to the Salvation Army and other organizations will gladly accept cash or food donations. Again they are in greater need of donations due to the pandemic increasing need and a resulting decrease in donations.
• Finally, on a side note, we should all give thanks for a safe, cheap, abundant food supply. After giving thanks, think how we can help those without living in a country with more food available than mouths to feed.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.