Drought hurts fish farmers; USDA open to helping women, Hispanic farmers

Jan 9, 2013

Fish farmer Steve Kahrs stands between a drained catfish pond and an active one.
Credit Kristofor Husted / KBIA

Coming up we’ll take a look at how the drought affected an outdoor industry completely dependent on water. But first, the United States Department of Agriculture is currently accepting claims from female and Hispanic farmers who believe the agency discriminated against them in farm loan or loan servicing programs. As Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports, the claims process is complex—but the payouts could be large.

If you couldn’t tell by the long-lasting triple digit temperatures last summer, 2012 was hot and for a long time. It was so hot in fact that Columbia and St. Louis set record highs for the year, according to the National Weather Service.

St. Louis recorded an average temperature of 61.2 degrees for last year, a full 1.1 degrees higher than the previous mark set in 1921.

In Columbia, the average temperature of 59.4 degrees topped the 1938 record.

In other Missouri locations, Springfield's 2012 average temperature was the second-warmest for that city. Kansas City tied for its third-warmest year, Joplin's was fourth and St. Joseph's tied for sixth.

Pair that irrepressible heat with one of the worst droughts in history, and you’ve got one serious environmental threat to Missouri farmers.

By now, you’ve heard about how the impact of those conditions hurt corn and soybean crops across the Midwest. But, the lack of water and high temperatures also delivered a pricey punch to U.S. aquaculture… the business of raising fish for food like bass and catfish.

Worldwide, aquaculture has grown into a $119 billion dollar industry. But, the drought hurt U.S. fish farmers already struggling to compete on a global scale.