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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher August 16, 2023

US did not issue a ‘food shortage emergency’ declaration

If Your Time is short

  • The federal government did not declare a "food shortage emergency," despite a claim by a YouTuber user who makes frequent allegations about emergencies.

A man inside a vehicle began a 22-minute video by claiming that the U.S. declared a "food emergency" and imploring viewers to stock up on canned goods.

"The federal government has just declared a major food shortage emergency in multiple states," he said in the video, shared Aug. 8 on Facebook. "Major emergency, 40% reduction is what we are dealing with right now, at least 40%, and this has been declared in six different states that I can find so far."

The video was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The video was made by a YouTuber who goes by Patrick Humphrey and has more than 90,000 subscribers. First posted Aug. 7 on YouTube, it represents a larger theme on Humphrey’s channel: He regularly posts videos about alleged emergencies and warnings from federal officials.

But two federal agencies, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told PolitiFact they had made no such food shortage declaration. 

"This is absolutely false," FEMA said in an email.

About eight minutes into the video, the narrator claimed that the Agriculture Department made the declaration for Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Maine. He displayed an image that included headlines from an Aug. 3 news article from the Storm Lake Times Pilot in Iowa and another from the same newspaper a year earlier. 

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Both articles said the Agriculture Department had allowed for "emergency grazing and haying" in parts of Iowa due to drought conditions. 

The USDA declaration is part of a federal program that allows farmers to temporarily take hay from, or have livestock graze on, land that is usually restricted.

We found similar news stories in July and August 2023 for federal "grazing and haying" declarations in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. A news story said Maine made a similar declaration because of excessive rain.

The additional grazing or haying is allowed when there is at least 40% loss in production of forage, such as hay, according to the Agriculture Department. Forage is a plant, such as hay, eaten by livestock. 

Humphrey has made similar claims that PolitiFact has debunked, including one about "massive explosions" and one about a poison emergency.  

There was no federal declaration of a food shortage emergency. We rate the Facebook post False.

PolitiFact staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Our Sources

Facebook, post, Aug. 8, 2023

YouTube, post, Aug. 7, 2023

Email, U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesperson Janell Goodwin, Aug. 14, 2023

Email, Federal Emergency Management Agency news desk, Aug. 12, 2023

Storm Lake Times Pilot, "USDA allowing emergency grazing, haying on CRP acres," Aug. 03, 2022

Storm Lake Times Pilot, "Drought triggers emergency haying, grazing," Aug. 01, 2023

Agriculture Department, "Emergency Haying and Grazing," accessed Aug. 14, 2023

Progressive Farmer, "Emergency CRP Haying and Grazing Opens up in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska," July 14, 2023

Morning AgClips, "USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing and Haying of Conservation Reserve Program Acres for Illinois Counties," Aug. 1, 2023

Maine Public Radio, "Federal agency allows emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres," Aug. 13, 2023

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US did not issue a ‘food shortage emergency’ declaration

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