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Farmers warn food aisles will soon be empty because of crushing conditions: 'We are not in a good position'

"There is a concern that we won't ever have the volumes we had in the past in the future."

"There is a concern that we won't ever have the volumes we had in the past in the future."

Photo Credit: iStock

The United Kingdom is facing dire food shortages, forcing prices to skyrocket, and experts predict this is only the beginning.

What's happening? 

According to a report by The Guardian, extreme weather is wreaking havoc on crops across the region. England experienced more rainfall during the past 18 months than it has over any 18-month period since record-keeping began in 1836. 

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Because the rain hasn't stopped, many farmers have been unable to get crops such as potatoes, carrots, and wheat into the ground. "Usually, you get rain but there will be pockets of dry weather for two or three weeks at a time to do the planting. That simply hasn't happened," farmer Tom Allen-Stevens told The Guardian. 

Farmers have also planted fewer potatoes, opting for less weather-dependent and financially secure crops. At the same time, many of the potatoes that have been planted are rotting in the ground. 

"There is a concern that we won't ever have the volumes [of potatoes] we had in the past in the future," British Growers Association CEO Jack Ward told The Guardian. "We are not in a good position and it is 100% not sustainable," Ward added

Why is it important? 

English farmers aren't alone — people are struggling to grow crops worldwide because of extreme weather

Dry weather in Brazil and heavy rain in Vietnam have farmers concerned about pepper production. Severe drought in Spain and record-breaking rain and snowfall in California have made it difficult for farmers to cultivate olives for olive oil. El Niño and rising temperatures cut Peru's blueberry yield in half last year. Everyone's favorite drinks — coffee, beer, and wine — have all been impacted by extreme weather. 

According to an ABC News report, the strain on the agriculture industry will likely continue to cause food prices to soar. 

If these were just isolated events, farmers could more easily adapt — bad growing seasons are nothing new. The problem is that rising temperatures are directly linked to the increasing amount of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. 

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, humans have burned dirty energy sources such as coal, oil, and gas, which release a significant amount of those gases. Our climate is changing so drastically that the 10 warmest years since 1850 have all occurred in the last decade.

"As climate change worsens, the threat to our food supply chains — both at home and overseas — will grow," Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit analyst Amber Sawyer told The Guardian. 

What can we do about it? 

"Fortunately, we know many ways we can make the food system more resilient while reducing food emissions. The biggest opportunity in high-income nations is a reduction in meat consumption and exploration of more plants in our diets," said Dr. Paul Behrens, an associate professor of environmental change at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

If we replace a quarter of our meat consumption with vegetables, we could cut around 100 million tons of air pollution yearly. It may seem strange to suggest eating more vegetables with the decline in crop production. However, reducing the land and water used for animal agriculture and diverting those resources to growing more produce would drastically help the declining food supply. 

Growing our own food is also a great way to reduce our reliance on store-bought produce, and it can save you hundreds of dollars a year at the grocery store. 

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