The Obama administration is calling on Congress to provide assistance to farmers suffering from the worst drought in 25 years.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says three-fifths of the U.S. land mass and much of the country's corn and soybean crops are affected by the lack of rain.
Vilsack met with President Barack Obama Wednesday to discuss a
response to the disaster. Vilsack said farmers could get assistance
if Congress passes a new farm bill, approves additional disaster
programs or provides more flexibility in the availability of
Don Hutchens Executive Director of the Nebraska Corn Board added, "The drought brings on a whole new aspect to the farm bill and what Congress may want to consider in some additional aid to producers in the worst hit areas. There are some low-interest emergency loans available for producers."
Hutchens said passing the Farm Bill is critical this year, especially for the 30% of corn producers in Nebraska.
"Individual producers who are strictly dry land are going to have a tough go of it, they're going have to depend on crop insurance."
Hutchens told 10/11 the other 70% of producers may be spared thanks to irrigated crops and anti-drought corn technology.
Hutchens said even though the drought will have its effects, he thinks the irrigated producers will pull Nebraska through this dry time--keeping the state at it's national corn ranking.
But he said it's not all rosy, as it could mean producers could have less money to spend elsewhere.
"If you're an irrigated farmer you have to spend more for irrigation and if we see the cost go up and the production go down, then that obviously has a ripple down effect.
Vilsack cautioned consumers about potential price gouging,
saying any increase in retail costs would likely come much later.
Hutchens said, "It will take some time before these higher priced products to find their way through the food chain."
Asked about the role of prayer, Vilsack said "If I had a rain
prayer or rain dance I could do, I would do it."
However Hutchens said some corn producers who have corn to sell this fall could actually do very well because of shortages elsewhere in the country.