|Draught having dramatic effect on ag industry|
|Friday, 10 August 2012 15:55|
The new Ag Department report reduces the prediction for this year's corn crop by 17% from its forecast just a month ago. It wasn't a surprise for farmers in the corn belt states of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. The USDA says this year's corn yield will be the lowest in 17 years. Corn prices have risen more than 60% in the past seven weeks as the worst drought since the 1930s continues to dry out the plains and the southwest.
And in even more sobering news for ranchers, the nation's rangeland and pastures are reported to be in even worse condition, with three fifths rated in poor to very poor shape. That means hay and feed grains will be even more expensive for ranchers. Rick Fox says, "I think the expenses will come up, yes definitely. But there's got to be a top to it. I mean, it can only go so high and producers will sell cows. I hope that doesn't happen."The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported just this past week that the first seven months of 2012 were the hottest on record.
In addition to the heat-wave, the central states are also seeing a plague of grasshoppers, especially in Nebraska and Colorado. All of this means that ranchers are going to find it more difficult to maintain cattle inventories at previous levels. Rick Fox says, "Some of the older producers say they're just not gong to go out and look for pasture or even hay. At two hundred dollars a ton that's getting up there. That's historic highs for the area. There's just no way a guys going to make this thing work at two hundred dollars a ton."
The Dust Bowl of the 1930s has been called an "eco-catastrophe" and has been characterized as the "most extreme natural event in 350 years". But the Dust Bowl took several years to develop, and climatologists say the Great Plains aren't seeing a replay of the Dust Bowl just yet.
Al Van Zee