More drought in 2013 threatens Midwest farms

Sunday, February 17, 2013
By Paul Martin

Christopher Doering
February 15, 2013

Some experts predicted Thursday that the drought which cut crop yields this summer across much of the nation will continue this year, but one was more optimistic

WASHINGTON — After suffering through the worst drought in decades last year, farmers throughout the Midwest should brace for another round of hot and dry conditions in 2013, weather forecasters warned on Thursday.

As the spring planting season nears, forecasters have expressed concern that much of the Midwest could remain starved for moisture, though they caution it’s still too early to safely predict the weather several months out. The Midwest could see a late summer increase in rainfall, but the relief will be much too late to help farmers, according to one prediction from a University of Missouri researcher.

“The continuing conditions really look like they’re setting up for a very similar level of drought in the Midwest and West,” Roger Pulwarty, a director with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who focuses on drought, told lawmakers on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The 2012 drought spread beyond the Midwest to affect more than 60% of the contiguous United States, making it the worst since the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. A sharp drop in crop yields pushed corn and soybean prices to record highs during the summer and costs to feed U.S. livestock soared, forcing ranchers to send their herds to slaughter rather than pay the higher feed costs.

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