Streams

Midwest Drought's Ripple Effects

Monday, July 30, 2012

U.S. Drought Monitor map as of July 24th, 2012

The drought continues throughout much of the United States. NPR food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles looks at the effects on everything from factory farms to local food prices.

Guests:

Dan Charles

Comments [10]

Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

If your a family farmer in Iowa, you're all but forced to grow corn or soy. Almost the entire infrastructure is set up for corn and soy only. From grain elevators to get your crop to market down to the implements you can by at the local tractor dealer is all geared towards growing corn and soy. Since corn ans soy are commodities, the price set per bushel is set before the farmer even puts seed in the ground. Great in a bumper corp year but catastrophic in a drought year like we are having. Everyone thinks the 1000, 2000, 3000 acre farms out there are all big corporate farms. But the reality is most of them are family owned. In North Dakota for example, a 1000 acre farm is considered a small farm. Yet non of the farms in North Dakota are incorporated because its illegal to do so. Farms grow because as farmers literary die off, surrounding farmers have to buy up their land to grow more corn ans soy because the profit margins are so low and equipment costs and running costs are extremely high. If you actually talk to these guys, they really love the land and have to love what they do since they are not getting rich. You just don't see farmers out there driving around in brand new Cadillacs unless they sold all their land to developers... The monolithic crop we have created in this country is not only killing us with a crappy diet but its also killing the American farmer.....

Jul. 30 2012 11:38 AM
econimst from canada

the Yukon is in CANADA!!!! not usa

Jul. 30 2012 10:45 AM
Penny from Downtown

Everyone in government and the health media should be taking the corn troubles as an opportunity to push for the removal of corn syrup from our food. They should all point out that the syrup should come out, instead of food manufacturers taking the drought as an opportunity to again permanently raise food prices.

Jul. 30 2012 10:45 AM
Tom from UWS

There's no latent moisture in Nebraska. With temps in the 100s for a good part of the last month or more the crops had all the water in them dried out, and the land as well. The extremely low snow fall in the mountains to the west means reservoirs were not well replenished by spring melts. It's pretty desperate out there, and ag advisors expect this to effect the next couple of seasons going forward.

Jul. 30 2012 10:40 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

What the last caller did not observe is that like the golf coarse he was playing on, a lot of corn crops in Iowa are irrigated. Chances are good that the crops he saw are probably irrigated...

Jul. 30 2012 10:40 AM
Robert from Manhattan

Just an anecdote about a personal drought experience. Not profound, but maybe people can relate. I was driving through Wisconsin in July 1988 when I came to a curve in a rural road. Dust had built up on that curve and when I turned into it I started to skid. It felt as if I were taking a curve on ice and snow. I reacted accordingly and all was well. Let's just say I felt fortunate to have experience driving in the winter, but never imagined it would come in handy on a 90+ degree day.

Jul. 30 2012 10:40 AM
station44025 from Brooklyn

The percentage of ethanol in fuels is mandated by law in most cases, so that market distorts corn prices and therefore food prices. This is one of the many reasons that ethanol is a terrible solution for transportation energy needs.

Jul. 30 2012 10:38 AM
leoinnyc

With all of massive government subsidies to Big Ag, isn't it a little obscene to be passing rising food costs on to the consumer? I can see how this would hit small farmers hard, but the vast majority of our food comes from huge companies that already get paid by the federal government just to do what they do, and who already turn giant profits.

Jul. 30 2012 10:33 AM

And they kept driving their SUVs to the malls and golf courses

Jul. 30 2012 10:29 AM

given that climate change is universally acknowledged at this point, has a serious dialogue begun regarding crop de-centralization?

Re-purposing (for example, away from the mouths of pigs and into the mouths of humans)?

if not, what would push power brokers to begin such conversations of change? Are there examples from other climate-change effected areas in the world from which we can learn?

Jul. 30 2012 10:15 AM

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