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Drought In U.S. Now Worst Since 1956; Food Prices To Spike, Economy To Suffer

Posted by on Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:11 PM
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On 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, Ill.
Enlarge Scott Olson/Getty Images

On 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, Ill.

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.

And 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.

The redder the area, the worst the drought.
National Climatic Data Center

The redder the area, the worst the drought.

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 declaration ever."

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:

"Forecasters 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 disasters."

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.

If 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.

nwp.org

by on Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:11 PM
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Replies (1-9):
norahsmommy
by Member on Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:17 PM
1 mom liked this
Yep. It's rained here 3 times since
The last frost. That's horrible!!! The farms wells are running dry and there is nothing left to pull from the river. It has never been this bad in my life. My lawn is brown and almost all my plants are dead. I have never been one to water and I'm glad I don't. It would be too guilt inducing to waste water that way right now. I still see people with timed sprinklers every day. It bothers me, and I usually don't care. Unless you are watering your food, you shouldn't be watering.
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NWP
by assistant gardener on Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Lawns and golf courses use more fresh water than anything else in this country...How bad is that?

Quoting norahsmommy:

Yep. It's rained here 3 times since
The last frost. That's horrible!!! The farms wells are running dry and there is nothing left to pull from the river. It has never been this bad in my life. My lawn is brown and almost all my plants are dead. I have never been one to water and I'm glad I don't. It would be too guilt inducing to waste water that way right now. I still see people with timed sprinklers every day. It bothers me, and I usually don't care. Unless you are watering your food, you shouldn't be watering.


nwp.org

michiganmom116
by Garden Owner on Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:26 PM
We've already noticed the price of chicken feed has jumped $2/50 lb. bag.
michiganmom116
by Garden Owner on Jul. 17, 2012 at 8:28 PM
If you've got enough money, I'd suggest stocking up on non perishables now instead of waiting.
mross63
by on Jul. 18, 2012 at 9:05 AM

I was thinking the same thing, thing is this is hubby's slow time so no extra funds to deal with. Even with our unprecedented 4 days in a row rains we are still down some 2 inches, we only got 2 days of good rain & dust and wind the others.

duets
by asst. gardener on Jul. 24, 2012 at 2:56 AM

I heard this again on the news today.....they also said that this drought would make the gas prices increase, go figure.

michiganmom116
by Garden Owner on Jul. 24, 2012 at 7:05 AM


Quoting duets:

I heard this again on the news today.....they also said that this drought would make the gas prices increase, go figure.

The ethanol in gasoline is made from corn.

NWP
by assistant gardener on Jul. 24, 2012 at 8:36 AM
1 mom liked this

If there is a silver lining in any of this, it is that it may hurt the ethanol business...if ethanol corn prices spike, gas companies wont buy it anymore.

We need to start using our fields for food again instead of oils, syrups and fillers for "food product".

Quoting michiganmom116:


Quoting duets:

I heard this again on the news today.....they also said that this drought would make the gas prices increase, go figure.

The ethanol in gasoline is made from corn.


Nice Widdle Puppy


othermom
by New Member on Aug. 8, 2012 at 11:36 AM


Quoting michiganmom116:

If you've got enough money, I'd suggest stocking up on non perishables now instead of waiting.


Definatly going to be picking up extr when we can

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