Drought Hammers U.S. Crops

An ongoing drought that is stretching across the United States is endangering crop production, threatening to raise food prices, and undermining the agriculture industry, which has withstood nearly four years of national economic decline.

For the past several months, much of the nation has been in the grip of a severe drought, one that stretches from California to Indiana. So far, more than 11,000 counties in 26 states have been declared disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leading many farmers to worry about the future of the American agricultural industry. The drought comes at a particularly bad time for many farmers, who had planned to harvest the biggest corn crop in recent history this summer.

The drought, and the damage it is doing to staple crops like corn, will likely drive food prices up over the next year. By 2013, the USDA estimates that food prices will have increased by 13 percent, adding extra pressure to consumers already hurting from the economic downturn.

In addition to adding to consumer woes, the drought could undermine the farm economy in many states, leading to major economic slowdowns. Not only will the drought hurt farmers, but is likely to hurt the various industries that service the farm sector (such as farm equipment sales and manufacturing). Major decline in these industries could seriously hurt the economies of rural states already struggling in the midst of a major recession.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer