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Severe Drought Hits The U.S.

Severe drought is hammering crops in the Midwest and beyond. 1,000 counties in 26 states declared disaster areas. We’ll check in.

Steve Niedbalski is seen chopping down his drought and heat stricken corn for feed Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Nashville, Ill. Farmers in parts of the Midwest, dealing with the worst drought in nearly 25 years, have given up hope for a corn crop and are mowing over their fields and baling the heat withered plants for livestock feed. (AP)

Steve Niedbalski is seen chopping down his drought and heat stricken corn for feed Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Nashville, Ill. Farmers in parts of the Midwest, dealing with the worst drought in nearly 25 years, have given up hope for a corn crop and are mowing over their fields and baling the heat withered plants for livestock feed. (AP)

I’m a farm kid, born and raised.  I’ve never heard my dad brought to the brink of tears by the weather.  I did last night, on the phone to Illinois.  He’d just driven 40 miles through corn fields devastated by drought.  Mile after mile of corn fields with no corn.  Just dry, spindly, heat-blasted stalks.  Worthless.  It made him, he said, feel almost physically ill.

More than half the country is in drought now.  Worst in half a century.  It’s brought fire to the Rockies.  Parch to Texas.  Now it’s tearing into the corn belt and cattle herds.

This hour, On Point:  the great drought hits the nation’s breadbasket.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Chris Hurt, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University.

Don Duval, farmer and  president of the White County Farm Bureau in Carmi, IL.

Mark Svoboda, climatologist, is the Monitoring Program Area Leader for the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Al Davis, owner of the O L O Ranch in Hyannis, Nebraska.

Maps

Here’s the latest map of drought conditions in the U.S. from the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

National Drought Mitigation Center

National Drought Mitigation Center

 

From Tom’s Reading List

Businessweek “A worst-in-a-generation drought from Indiana to Arkansas to California is damaging crops, rural economies, and threatening to drive food prices to record levels. Agriculture, though a small part of the $15.5 trillion U.S. economy, had been one of the most resilient industries in the past three years as the country struggled to recover from the recession.”

New York Times “Scattered rain fell in parts of the Midwest on Friday, but it was not enough to provide relief to farmers struggling to salvage crops scorched by worsening drought conditions and ranchers worried about feeding livestock.”

Des Moines Register “A new drought condition map showing widened coverage of the 2012 drought across the Corn Belt sent corn prices near $7 per bushel and soybeans near $15 when trading began on the Chicago Board of Trade after the holiday hiatus.”

CBS News “Fifty-five percent of the continental U.S. was in a moderate to extreme drought by the end of June, NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said in its monthly State of the Climate drought report. That’s the largest percentage since December 1956, when 58 percent of the country was covered by drought.”

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