Our View: Drought not only a Midwest concern
Much of the nation — more than 50 percent of the lower 48 states — is experiencing oppressive heat and worsening drought. When the U.S. agriculture secretary is “saying an extra prayer” for rain, as he reportedly said following a briefing to President Barack Obama, the situation has reached a level where mitigation is out of human hands.
Widespread drought in the Midwest is already forcing grain prices to record levels — levels that will undoubtedly mean increased meat and poultry prices this year and next for the High Country and beyond.
Federal drought aid is now extended to 1,297 counties in 29 states, as farmers — who had expected strong harvests fueled by favorable weather conditions and early season plantings — are left to watch crops wilt. Fields are being plowed under and herds are being thinned.
Drought in the United States is both a local and global concern — the United States is food exporter to the world.
To address impending local and export concerns, some livestock producers and others have beseeched the Environment Protection Agency to relax its mandate to blend ethanol into gasoline — about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is now used to produce the corn-based fuel.
Such a move is on the watch list, but not necessary at this time given ethanol supplies, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A watch for rain is more immediate, the ag department says — although for many farmers rain even today would be too little, too late.
The High Country has had its share of severe drought, and we can emphasize with our western neighbors.
But what is more, given expectations of rising prices, we will directly share this dry spell.