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A Modernized New Deal Could Revive the American Agriculture Industry

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A field of wheat at sunset.

These are difficult times in farm country. Historic spring rains–600 percent above average in some places–inundated fields and homes. The United States Department of Agriculture predicts that this year’s corn and soybean crops will be the smallest in four years, due partly to delayed planting.

Even before the floods, farm bankruptcies were already at a 10-year high. In 2018 less than half of U.S. growers made any income from their farms, and median farm income dipped to negative $1,553–that is, a net loss.

At the same time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that about 12 years remain to rein in global greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Beyond this point, scientists predict significantly higher risks of drought, floods, and extreme heat.

And a landmark United Nations report released in May warns that roughly one million species are now threatened with extinction. This includes pollinators that provide $235 billion to $577 billion in annual global crop value.

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