Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently warned Congress that the ongoing drought could lead to a drop in farm exports, which could seriously hurt the farm sector and threaten the rural economy.
With record-breaking temperatures across the U.S. and rainfall well below summer averages, the current drought has the potential to be the worst in a generation and could do more damage to crop production than the 1980’s ruinous drought which, when combined with the general farm depression, drove farmers across the country into bankruptcy.
More than two-thirds of the country is currently affected by the drought with about one-third facing severe or extreme drought conditions. The Corn Belt is particularly hard-hit, with some farmers reporting losses of up to 80 percent of their crops.
In the face of these extreme conditions, Secretary Vilsack is warning Congress that farm exports could drop. In addition to the obvious lack of supply, crop prices, particularly for corn, are expected to rise sharply. With corn prices reaching more than $8.50 a bushel, fewer and fewer farmers will sell their crops overseas (with many importers turning elsewhere to avoid high costs).
In addition to warning Congress about impending agricultural decline, Vilsack reminded lawmakers of the importance of passing a new farm bill. In particular, he emphasized the need for expanded federal aid as well as increased confidence from the farm sector.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer