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Direckshun 07-25-2012 10:32 AM

How bad is the drought?
So bad that ONE THIRD of the counties in the United States of America are now designated federal disaster areas.


And it's going to get worse. It's already the worst in 50 years.

This story's based out of Kansas City.

Widespread Drought Is Likely to Worsen
Published: July 19, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The drought that has settled over more than half of the continental United States this summer is the most widespread in more than half a century. And it is likely to grow worse.

The latest outlook released by the National Weather Service on Thursday forecasts increasingly dry conditions over much of the nation’s breadbasket, a development that could lead to higher food prices and shipping costs as well as reduced revenues in areas that count on summer tourism. About the only relief in sight was tropical activity in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeast that could bring rain to parts of the South.

The unsettling prospects come at a time of growing uncertainty for the country’s economy. With evidence mounting of a slowdown in the economic recovery, this new blow from the weather is particularly ill-timed.

Already some farmers are watching their cash crops burn to the point of no return. Others have been cutting their corn early to use for feed, a much less profitable venture.

“It really is a crisis. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this in my lifetime,” Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois said after touring ravaged farms in the southern part of the state.

The government has declared one-third of the nation’s counties — 1,297 of them across 29 states — federal disaster areas as a result of the drought, which will allow farmers to apply for low-interest loans to get them through the disappointing growing season.

“It’s got the potential to be the worst drought we’ve ever had in Arkansas,” said Butch Calhoun, the state’s secretary of agriculture. “It’s going to be very detrimental to our economy.”

What is particularly striking about this dry spell is its breadth. Fifty-five percent of the continental United States — from California to Arkansas, Texas to North Dakota — is under moderate to extreme drought, according to the government, the largest such area since December 1956. An analysis released on Thursday by the United States Drought Monitor showed that 88 percent of corn and 87 percent of soybean crops in the country were in drought-stricken regions, a 10 percent jump from a week before. Corn and soybean prices reached record highs on Thursday, with corn closing just over $8.07 a bushel and soybeans trading as high as $17.49.

As of Sunday, more than half of the corn in seven states was in poor or very poor condition, according to the Department of Agriculture. In Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana, that figure is above 70 percent. Over all, only 31 percent of the nation’s corn is in good to excellent condition, compared with 66 percent at the same time last year.

“We’re expecting significant reductions in production potential yield, potential for corn and soybeans in particular,” said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the Department of Agriculture.

The withering corn has increased feed prices and depleted available feeding land, putting stress on cattle farmers. A record 54 percent of pasture and rangeland — where cattle feed or where hay is harvested for feeding — was in poor or very poor condition, according to the Department of Agriculture. Many farmers have been forced to sell their animals.

Because feed can account for nearly half of a cattle farmer’s costs, consumers could see a rise in the price of meat and dairy products, experts said. The high sustained heat has led the key components in milk, like fat and protein, to plummet more than usual, said Chris Galen, a spokesman for National Milk Producers Federation.

“This is due to cows eating less dry matter, and drinking more water ... which tends to thin out the resulting milk output,” he said in an e-mail. “So, if you’re a cheese maker, you need to use a little more milk to get the same volume of cheese output.”

Still, this year’s drought is not expected to be as rough on Midwestern agriculture as the one in 1988. Corn yields were 22 percent under trend that year, and this year the Department of Agriculture is projecting yields 11 percent under trend — “though that could change in August,” said Joseph W. Glauber, the department’s chief economist.

Many also believe that farmers are better situated this year to handle the impact of a drought than they were two decades ago. More than 80 percent of corn and soybeans are estimated to be insured, Mr. Glauber said.

Last year, crop insurers paid a record $11 billion in indemnity payments, and that “should serve as a good model for what farmers can expect this year,” Tom Zacharias, the president of National Crop Insurance Services, said in a news release.

But the impact of this drought has extended beyond farming. In Missouri, the torrid conditions have sparked forest fires that resemble the types of wildfires seen in the West. Already, 117 wildfires have burned in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest, a record-setting pace. Conditions have been so dry that there was a report of hay in a barn combusting on its own.

Meanwhile, water levels are falling in town reservoirs as well as major waterways like the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Barge and towboat operators have been reducing the size of their loads because of the low water, said Ann M. McCulloch, a spokeswoman for the American Waterways Operators. This means shipping operators, who transport a variety of goods from crops to gravel, have had to take more trips, increasing transportation costs that could be passed on to consumers.

Officials in Augusta, Kan., estimate that they have 110 days worth of water that they can draw from a nearby reservoir. The primary reservoir used for their municipal water supply dropped too low last year, the result of a drought in the area that started two years ago, said Josh Shaw, the assistant to the city manager. Indianapolis has put restrictions on water use; south of the city, Johnson County banned smoking at the county fair.

In Colorado, there is concern that the drought could damage forage that deer, elk and other game feed on in the fall. But the state also has seen advantages from the drought. Lower water levels have been helpful for fly fishing, and, with fewer places for animals to drink water, they will likely gather in concentrated areas, making conditions better for hunting.

And one Indianapolis painter is making the best of the situation, according to The Indianapolis Star, by starting a new arm of his business: painting brown lawns green.

BucEyedPea 07-25-2012 10:36 AM

It's BAD! Here, though, we never stop getting rain.

qabbaan 07-25-2012 10:38 AM

Bush's fault no doubt.

cosmo20002 07-25-2012 10:41 AM


Originally Posted by qabbaan (Post 8766447)
Bush's fault no doubt.

So very, very defensive.

La literatura 07-25-2012 10:44 AM


Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 8766429)
And one Indianapolis painter is making the best of the situation, according to The Indianapolis Star, by starting a new arm of his business: painting brown lawns green.

I wonder how much business that gets.

LiveSteam 07-25-2012 10:44 AM


Originally Posted by cosmo20002 (Post 8766464)
So very, very defensive.

i bet this really bothers you.
No corn cobs to shove up your ass

Dayze 07-25-2012 10:49 AM

notice this shit started happening right around when Dane came back. That SOB

qabbaan 07-25-2012 11:01 AM

Make no mistake, the convenient drought will be one facet of excuse-making for the Obama economy during this campaign.

bevischief 07-25-2012 11:06 AM

Doing fine up here. Rained several days last week and rained the last 2 days. First we have seen the sun since Saturday.

Lex Luthor 07-25-2012 11:27 AM

The drought is bad. Everybody knows that.

The drought doesn't prove AGW any more than the bitterly cold winter with heavy snowfalls of two years ago disproved it. Oh wait, I forgot that the cold winter was just another proof of AGW. Everything proves AGW to some people.

RealSNR 07-25-2012 11:41 AM

There was a terrible drought in the 1930s far worse than this one. What was that called again?

Shit happens.

Graystoke 07-25-2012 11:47 AM

Indeed the drought is bad.
My yard and garden are pretty much wasted. Seems like the lack of rain has brought on a plague of Grasshoppers who chow everything in sight.
The lake I live on is down 5 ft. With this heat I foresee a fish kill on the horizon.
I think the economic impact is going to be brutal.

HonestChieffan 07-25-2012 12:04 PM

Practically, we are seeing the corn and bean crops for all practical purposes wiped out in Missouri. The drought lessens as you move away from Western mo but the impact is still dire for producers. We were able to raise an average hay crop with the early moisture and growing season almost a month ahead this spring but that hay is already being fed so many cattle folks will be short on hay for feed. Some corn was cut as silage after it was evaluated and declared yields were established. That will serve as some supplement to hay.

Cow calf producers do not feed a lot of corn, its used as a supplement in winter to add to the hay nutrition. Corn prices are going to fall out in the 10's...that is nearly a 2x rise in corn cost to the cattleman. Some will have to evaluate reduction of herd size to survive this. We are seeing calves being sold and going into feedlots far lighter than normal. This means feedlots have to grow them longer or kill them lighter. Its easy to assume lighter kill weights in the next 12 to 18 months with cost of gain so high. That translates to less beef supply and higher prices to consumers. Our local cattle will move off the farm about 150 pounds lighter. That reduces pressure on hay and feed stocks but also drops farm income. Some cows will move but Cow calf producers will resist culling cows if they don't absolutely have to.

With grass in condition it is in today, its worth study to see what effect this heat and drought will have on grass recovery. This is at historic levels so there really is not much to go on. We will need cooler temps and adequate moisture to get grass to grow. For winter pastures we need a very late start to winter, a long fall, and lots of rain or we will see grass go into winter in terrible shape. Most of our grasses in missouri is fescue an fit requires a fall growth to set it up for the next year. Without that, we will see grasses die and a need to reseed pastures, greater weed pressures and lower hay and grass available in 2013.

Urban folk need to be aware of foundation issues. Home foundations are in high risk with soil pulling away causing unstable walls, possible cracking and leaking . Trees, bushes and shrubs are showing severe stress. Some mature trees in both rural and urban areas are in full defoliation. Survival will be known next spring. Yard grasses face same issues as pastures unless they have been irrigated

Rural water supplies are falling rapidly. Some small communities will be in a major hurt soon. Rural water districts pulling from Truman, Pomme, and the Mo River expect to see issues soon. Pasture water is limiting options for cattle now. If a pasture is dependent on a pond and the pond is dry, we move cattle to ones with water but that increases the speed water is consumed and is only a temporary fix.

Fire danger is huge. My understanding is we have a fire in place near Truman lake today and the risk is perhaps highest ever for forest, grass and even crown fires in timber...

Probably more info than you wanted.

Radar Chief 07-25-2012 12:12 PM


Originally Posted by LiveSteam (Post 8766470)
i bet this really bothers you.
No corn cobs to shove up your ass

Actually I was out Jeeping around last week and saw the corn around here has ears on it, must’ve sprouted before everything dried out, so he may still have a few to sit on.

FishingRod 07-25-2012 12:16 PM

Insert farts dust punchline

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