Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture reported half of the nation’s counties have been declared “natural disaster areas” because of severe droughts affecting the West, Midwest, and Southeast.  About 1,584 counties across 32 states are experiencing the drought. Some are saying this is the worst drought in more than 50 years. The drought is shriveling a lot of food crops & animal feedstock in the affected counties. With the drought continuing and crop shortages, this means higher food prices are to be expected. The USDA estimates that prices could rise as much as 3.5 percent this year and up to 4 percent in 2013.

          The USDA said it was allowing haying and grazing on 3.8 million protected acres and that insurance companies agreed to a 30 day grace period for farmers on insurance premiums. The Nature Conservancy was okay with the haying and grazing, as long as the impacts to wildlife and habitats were minimal. These are a few steps that the USDA and others are taking to help farmers in drought areas.

          Corn and soybean ratings are also tremendously decreasing, and are in the worst shape for this time of year since 1988. About 24 percent of the corn was in good or excellent condition and an estimated 29 percent of the soybean crop with top ratings, both of these as of last week. The corn crop has received most of the damage. Everyone is hoping for rain. It will most likely not save the corn crop, but could probably limit the damage of the soybean crop.

          To find out more about the drought and to remain updated visit the following website: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/




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