Depletion of Resource Base of Water, Soils Shown in Fall Harvest Losses, Food Supply Disaster
September 28, 2012 • 9:38AM

Harvest season reports now coming in from the Northern Hemisphere, confirm the huge scale of crop losses, concurrently, in the major agriculture zones, which manifests the depletion process of the resource base of water and soils. Look at the examples of the grainbelts of Eurasia, North America, and northern China, where water supply systems were never put in place, and the rainfall-dependent farming regimes suffered huge losses this year. The same regions have diminishing aquifers as well. Plus, there are no contingency food reserves.

On Sept. 18, Lyndon LaRouche spoke of the accelerating rate of economic collapse, depletion, timing, and the war threat, in a staff meeting: "And the rate at which they're running out of resources is going to accelerate! So there's nothing linear about this! Nobody out there, has infinite resources, or can simply choose their own time, when they're going to act on these matters. And it's all kinds of matters: It's simple matters, like food supplies! Are you kidding yourself to imagine that we're going through the Winter, without a food crisis in the United States? Huh? This is going to have an effect. You take the quality of life, the quality of production, everything that's produced, the quality is collapsing; the quantities are collapsing..."

A brief Fall harvest round-up, in this context, illustrates the food crisis and resources depletion process:

* NORTH AMERICA. The Midwest grain belt, hit by heat and drought, will harvest far less corn and soybeans. Corn may come in at 273 million metric tons, 13 percent down from last year's 313 mmt, and from the 2010 harvest of 316 mmt. The U.S. soybean harvest may come in at 71.69 mmt, 14 percent down from 83.17 mmt last year, and 21 percent down from 90.61 mmt in 2010.

Only Nebraska, the one Midwest state with significant irrigation, has relatively higher percentages of its crops saved, though exteme heat took a toll. But Nebraska is on the northern end of the Ogallala Aquifer formation, which southward is being depleted drastically in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and west Texas. Because NAWAPA and ancillary projects were never built, to upgrade the land and water base, this huge dryland grain belt is still rain-dependent, vulnerable, and subject to modernday dustbowl and fire conditions.

All of northern Mexico is a water resources catastrophe, long in the making, then hit by drought. The Rio Bravo (Rio Grande) River Basin's water resources base was insufficient as of decades ago, and unable support the economic activity needed for the cross-border populations. This year, for example, farming in some areas was nullifed when irrigation water rights were summarily cancelled, such as the rice-growing region of the Colorado River (of Texas).

* EURASIA. The wheatbelt of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan is rainfall-dependent, and because no extensive water management/irrigation systems are in place, a hot, dry Summer this year resulted in vast crop damage. In Russia, this year's wheat harvest may be barely 39 million metric tons, way down from 56.23 mmt last year, and even below the 2010 wheat harvest of 41.5 mmt, because of which, Russian wheat exports had to be suspended. Wheat harvests in Ukraine and Kazakhstan are likewise way down.

In the larger central Eurasian region, the drying up of the Aral Sea Basin is a world-class example of depletion of land and water, in the absence of intervention to upgrade the hydraulics by bringing in new water from river diversions and desalination.

* NORTH CHINA PLAIN. This dryland region fortunately received enough and timely rainfall this year, to keep the wheat crop at the same level as that of recent years, but no significant increases, which is what is needed. The range of annual wheat production in the past three years is 115-118 mmt, with wheat imports at 1.5-3 mmt a year.

The North China Plain is home to about 42 percent of China's population, but has only 8 percent of the country's water resources. The South-to-North water conveyance projects address this, but meantime, the food requirements are pressing. Other uses for water are also pressing, especially for coal power plants, and industry. Water pollution is a dire problem.

Though China's policy intent has been for food self-sufficiency, that has not been possible in practice, so the policy in effect is of high-value food exports, along with high-volume grain and oilseed imports. Now the grain and oilseeds internationally are scarce. The situation is untenable.

Look at soy, a mainstay. The China soybean harvest is expected to be down this year to 12.6 mmt, from 13.5 mmt in 2011, and from 15.10 mmt in 2010. Annual soy imports rose from 52.34 mmt in 2010, up to an expected 59.5 mmt this year.