As heat and drought continue to sear the Farmbelt, yesterday's weekly "Crop Progress Report" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave particulars on the bad condition of crops. At least 70 percent of the U.S. corn crop is in poor shape. Soybeans, hay, pasture, and other crops are equally suffering.
Yesterday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posted a report saying that the current drought is the worst since 1956. 'We're moving from a crisis to a horror story," was the evaluation by Purdue University agronomist Tony Vyn. "I see an increasing number of fields that will produce zero grain."
Midwestern state leaders are in motion to try to respond, while the Obama Administration is on another planet.
IOWA. Today Gov. Terry Branstad convened a forum in Henry County (southeast) to discuss what to do about the effect of drought on the state's pork sector, which relies on corn feed. The president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Nill Tentinger, a hog farmer, said, "The drought and impact on feed prices may be on the verge of creating a financial disaster for the pork industry and other livestock industries..." The spiking corn price and scarcity are a disaster. Another local farmer showed stunted corn cobs. He spoke of farmers turning despondent.
Branstad could only announce such measures, as lifting weight limits on state roads, to allow hauling heavier grain truckloads to hog and cattlemen.
Iowa's corn crop was rated 64-percent poor yesterday. It is the largest producing state.
ILLINOIS: Yesterday, Gov. Pat Quinn visited a southern corn and soybean farm, to announce that the state will aid drought-stricken farms, with debt restructuring, in addition to their eligibility for Federal disaster aid. One local farmer said that he would normally count on a corn yield of 170 bushels per acre, but this year it will be 10, or none at all. He is losing his livestock feed. But worse, he can't locate replacement feed for his 400 head of cattle and 30,000 hogs. "Where am I going to get that from? You have concerns about it every morning when you wake up." The number two corn state, the Illinois crop was rated 89 percent poor yesterday.
INDIANA: The Lt. Gov. Becky Stillman, also the state's Agriculture Secretary, released a statement July 12, promising to try to speed any aid possible from the Federal programs. Yesterday, Indiana's corn crop — usually the fifth highest in the nation — was rated as 92-percent poor.
NEBRASKA: On July 13, more than 1,100 farmers were ordered by the state's Department of Natural Resources to halt irrigating their crops, because the river-add creek flow is so low, after weeks of drought. Nebraska is the third-largest corn producer in the nation, and fourth for soy. Unlike Illinois and Iowa, half of all of Nebraska's crop and pasture lands is irrigated — over 90 percent from underground sources, which are not under a stop-order. But if rains don't come soon to restore run-off, the risk of huge crop losses is high. Nebraska's corn crop was rated 57-percent poor yesterday.
KANSAS: The state recently ordered more than 200 land owners to stop drawing water from 10 streams, whose flow is very low from the drought. No rain is in sight. Kansas City expects a temperature of 104 F. tomorrow. Kansas, the leading U.S. wheat state, has a corn crop rated as 85-percent poor yesterday.