For the past several weeks, Kansas has experienced record droughts, with some parts of the states receiving only 1/3 of their normal annual rainfall. Earlier this week, Governor Sam Brownback toured parts of the state hit hardest by the drought, promising assistance to struggling Kansas farmers. In addition to touring and speaking with locals, the governor has asked the federal government to declare a state of emergency in 21 counties, which should make federal farming aid available.
The drought has already wreaked havoc on the Kansas agricultural industry. Kansas’ wheat crop, in particular, has been hit hard by the lack of moisture. Last year, agriculture officials estimated a total wheat crop of about 360 million bushels. After the drought, this number is more likely going to be around 250 million bushels. In addition to damage done to the current crop, many farmers seem unlikely to plant their spring crop, citing concerns over the aridity of the soil.
The damage to the agricultural sector could have long lasting ramifications on the Kansas economy. Agriculture is a major part of the state’s economy, which is already hurting from the economic downturn. In addition to the generically bleak economic forecast, Kansas officials are in the middle of attempting to balance the state’s budget. The loss of revenue due to the drought, however, could impair this plan. The lost revenue for farmers could mean lowered revenues for surrounding businesses which could lead to an even more severe economic downturn in the state. While not overly gloomy, state officials are considering options to stimulate spending and prevent further economic decline.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer