Mixed outlook for nation’s farmers

Adriene Hill Aug 15, 2011

Mixed outlook for nation’s farmers

Adriene Hill Aug 15, 2011

JEREMY HOBSON: Well parts of the northeast corridor are in for more heavy rain today after record setting downpours earlier this week. That’s just a taste of the extreme weather that farmers around the country have been dealing with this year. Flooding for some. Drought for others. And the effect of that weather is a tight supply of some crops, which means higher prices for us consumers.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Adriene Hill reports.

ADRIENE HILL: There are some fundamental truths of farming, chief among them…

JOE PRUSACKI: It’s all about the weather when it comes to crops.

Joe Prusacki heads the statistics division for the USDA. He says this year’s weather has been much kinder to farmers in some parts of the country than others. In states where the heat just parked and just sat, forget about it.

PRUSACKI: We’ve had quite a bit of acreage, I would used the word “abandoned,” down like in the Texas and up through Oklahoma.

The weather has been a mixed bag for large-scale farmer Terry Jones, who manages corn and soybean farms down in Oklahoma.

TERRY JONES: The corn crop will be less than a half a crop.

But he’s also got acres in Iowa, and it’s a whole different story there.

JONES: It’s gonna be one of the better years.

Prices are high because supplies are tight. Farmers with crops to sell stand to make some big bucks. Take the corn crop.

I ask Iowa State University economist Chad Hart where the big winners are.

CHAD HART: Where it looks pretty good right now is my home state of Iowa; Illinois is looking pretty good. So two of our biggest producing corn states.

The losers include farmers whose crops have been hurt by the weather, livestock farmers who need corn to feed their animals, and, well, pretty much the rest of us.

HART: Since most of us in the economy are corn users instead of corn producers, that means higher costs to us as we go forward.

Hart says the shaky global economy could slow down demand for corn, but he says so far, supply is falling faster.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

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