PI Original Steven Ross Johnson Monday July 16th, 2012, 1:14pm

Drought Could Have Economic & Political Impact (UPDATED)

As Illinois continues to linger in the midst of one of its worst droughts in more than two decades, its greatest impact might be felt in the price of food, as a substantial portion of the state’s corn crop could be jeopardized if conditions fail to improve.

As Illinois continues to linger in the midst of one of its worst droughts in more than two decades, its greatest impact might be felt in the price of food, as a substantial portion of the state’s corn crop could be jeopardized if conditions fail to improve.

As of Friday, officials at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska declared all 102 of Illinois’ counties in drought, with 66 percent of the state designated as experiencing severe conditions.

The impact has already been felt on a number of farms throughout the southernmost part of the state, where farmers in 26 counties have already qualified for federal disaster relief aid under new rules set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the first six months of the year were the sixth driest on record. Precipitation throughout Illinois for the month of June reached only 43 percent of normal levels, a July 3 report from the Illinois State Water Survey found.

The lack of rain combined with unseasonably warm temperatures at the beginning of the year has already had a significant effect on the state’s crop yields. A July 2 report by the USDA’s National Agriculture and Statistics Service found that only 26 percent of Illinois’ corn crop was rated as being “good to excellent”, while as much as 89 percent of the state’s top soil was considered to have “short to very short moisture levels.”

“What we have seen in the past four or five weeks is a steady decline in the condition of the crop,” said Illinois Farm Bureau spokesman John Hawkins. “As far as southern Illinois, it looks as though [crop] yields are going to be significantly lower, and some farmers are already reporting a total crop failure for their corn.”

If current weather conditions continue, Hawkins fears this year’s growing season could become comparable to what occurred in 1988, when a major drought resulted in the loss of more than half of the state’s corn yield compared to the year prior.

“Weather has been more volatile than it has been 20 or 30 years ago, and that really impacts your yield potential when growing corn,” Hawkins said. “It likes steady rain and moderate temperatures, and we haven’t seen that for some time.”

But Illinois Department of Agriculture spokesman Jeff Squibb said while yield potential has been lost due to weather conditions – with nearly half of the state crop considered to be in poor condition as of July 9 compared to just 5 percent last month - it is still too early to make any determinations as to what the overall yield will be by the end of the growing season.

“The condition of the crop has deteriorated rapidly - having said that - in much of the state, we’re still in a critical developmental stage,” Squibb said. “So while certainly yield potential has been lost because of the drought, it’s not too late to salvage a decent crop. What happens in the next several weeks will determine the fate of the 2012 corn crop.” 

The ramifications of a heavy decline in corn could loom large for the state’s economy.  As Illinois’ largest farming product, corn makes up nearly half of the estimated $9 billion generated annually by the agriculture industry. Because a majority of the corn produced in Illinois is used as grain for animal feed, any significant shortage in supply would most likely cause meat prices to rise by next year, as livestock producers raise prices to offset higher costs.

The potential impact this year’s drought could have on food prices has not escaped the attention of Illinois food banks, according to Gerry Maguire, vice president of supply chain for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, who said while it remained too early to determine exactly how the cost of food might be impacted, the situation was one that he planned to closely monitor as food shelters throughout the state continue to see an increase in demand for their services.

“We are concerned about the supplies that we work with and our big donors are concerned also because we are hearing that there could be some real issues,” Maguire said. “But it’s purely speculation at this point until we see what comes out of the ground.”

In response to concerns, the state’s Drought Response Task Force convened last week in an effort to come up with recommendations on how best to address the potential dangers a prolonged drought might have for the state’s agricultural economy as well as for public safety, since resources such as drinking water could become more strained.     

“We are seeing drought conditions throughout Illinois, and it is important to convene the state’s top experts on weather, water resources and water supply management, agriculture, public health and safety in order to address the needs of communities around the state,” Quinn said in a written release. “The Drought Response Task Force allows us to better evaluate what we need to do to manage the impacts of drought in the coming weeks.”

In all, more than 60 percent of the country is currently under drought conditions, according to the NDMC’s U.S. Drought Monitor.  If food prices do rise as a result, some speculate that it could play a role in this year’s presidential election. In a report published last week in the Christian Science Monitor, rising food prices prior to November’s election could contribute to the economy going into inflation, which could further embolden the arguments of Pres. Barack Obama’s opponents who have criticized his administration’s handling of the economy throughout his first term in office.

UPDATE (5:12 p.m.): This afternoon, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn unveiled plans to help support farmers who have seen their crops damaged by the drought.

Ata a press conference held at a downstate farm, Quinn announced he has called on the USDA to increase the number of counties designated as eligible to receive federal emergency assistance loans from 26 to 33.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Illinois’ economy, and as we’ve seen today, severe drought conditions are devastating crop production throughout the state,” Quinn said. “As this drought continues, we are committed to using all the tools we have to help impacted farmers and communities bounce back.”

In addition to federal aid, Quinn announced the implementation of four state support programs, which will provide loans of up to $500,000, as well as the launch of a new website, Drought.Illinois.gov, for those seeking more information about the drought conditions and aid programs.

Here’s more from the Quinn’s press conference.

Image: Sanderovski&Linda/Flickr

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But the report says there is some evidence of increased drought conditions in the West and Southwest. Silicone watch http://www.dexgifts.com/

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http://9or.5rbz.com/category/4/1 صور اطفال
http://9or.5rbz.com/category/5/1 صور مشاهير
http://9or.5rbz.com/category/3/1 صور سيارات

droughts and storms a matter of great influence on politics, the authorities need to consider treatment and avoid happening.
The new IPad
New Ipad
Ipad 3

very nice and interesting post.

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