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Monday, a weed was growing through the dry earth at Marion Kujawa's
pond, which he normally uses to water the cattle on his farm in Ashley,
With about 55 percent of the continental
U.S. suffering from "moderate to extreme drought" conditions the nation
is withering under conditions that haven't been this bad since 1956, according to a new report from National Climatic Data Center.
this "worst-in-a-generation drought from Indiana to Arkansas to
California is damaging crops and rural economies and threatening to
drive food prices to record levels," Bloomberg News warns.
That's bad news for a U.S. economy still
struggling to gain strength. As Bloomberg notes, agriculture has been
"one of the most resilient industries in the past three years." But now,
that sector is facing an awful time. Already, the U.S. Agriculture Department has designated
1,016 counties in 26 states as natural disaster areas — meaning
hard-hit farmers in those areas can apply for low-interest emergency
loans from USDA. According to Bloomberg, that's "the biggest such
What's more, "the
drought could get a lot worse before it gets better," says Joe Glauber,
chief economist at the Agriculture Department, in this morning's Washington Post. There's no relief likely this week. The Post says that:
expect a high-pressure area to remain entrenched over the Rockies and
central United States. As a result, any storm systems will probably
track across southern Canada, missing the worst-affected areas.
"The bottom line: No significant rain is expected."
And it's going to be very hot in large parts of the nation again today and the rest of this week. Weatherunderground.com's current "severe weather" map shows heat advisories in states from Iowa and Missouri east through Pennsylvania and up into New England.
Weather Underground's Jeff Masters adds
that the costs associated with this drought "are certain to be many
billions of dollars, and the disaster could be one of the top 10 most
expensive weather-related disasters in U.S. history." As he points out,
"droughts historically have been some of the costliest U.S. weather
Update at 4:03 p.m. ET. It Started Promising:
Bryn Bird, a second generation farmer from central Ohio, tells All Things Considered's Robert Siegel that this spring looked promising. She said it was mild and many farmers had an early start.
But, now, it looks like most of their sweet corn crop will be lost to drought.
That means that Bird and her family will take a $30,000 to $40,000 loss.
"For a family farm," she said, "that's a significant loss."
Also, she said, because sweet corn is not a commodity crop, it can't be insured.
the drought continues, Bird said, the sweet corn could become livestock
feed. Her family, she said, has also turned to growing more tomatoes to
deal with the drought.
More of Robert's conversation with Bird will air on tonight's All Things Considered.