Dry weather in U.S. causing fires, hurting farms

Cattle rest at a watering hole in a pasture near Canadian, Texas.

Jeremy Hobson: Tens of thousands of people have evacuated from the Colorado Springs area because of a raging wildfire that's threatening homes. And it's just one of many wildfires burning across the West right now, thanks to especially dry conditions. Now those fires make for some dramatic images.

But as Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports, the real drama for many of us will come because of the effect the dry weather is having on farms.

John Dimsdale: The regions of the country hit so far by this year’s hot dry weather look a lot like the drought of 1988. That struck hardest in the farm country of the lower Midwest and caused over $60 billion in damages. This year, corn farmers are already feeling the heat. Corn futures have climbed 28 percent in the past two weeks in anticipation of a depleted harvest.

Phil Plourd follows markets at Blimling and Associates. He says beef, pork, chicken and dairy farmers will have to pass on the higher cost of feeding their animals.

Phil Plourd: Corn touches a lot of things. You can see it affect the livestock sector. It’s in a lot of food products, sweetners. If we’re talking about high corn prices, the reach can be pretty broad.

This drought began in Texas in late 2010, and has so far cost corn, wheat, cotton and hay farmers over $7.5 billion in lost sales.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...