Texas Farmers Could See Small Impact from Midwest Drought
By Carlos Morales, KUT News
Texas has partly recovered from extreme drought conditions thanks to heavy rains, but the Midwest is going through one its worst droughts in decades. What does that mean for Texas?
The nation is going through the worst agricultural drought since 1988, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s been especially harmful for corn and soybean crops. More than three-quarters of those crops are considered to be in an area affected by the drought, but that could actually be beneficial for Texas. Bob Rose is the chief meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority.
“With the Midwest suffering from drought, that’s driving prices up,” Rose says. “That means the market price for the corn, for many of the farmers in Texas and our area, is going to be very good.”
As a result of the dry conditions, the USDA has lowered projections for corn yields. Many are expecting this to have some effect on food prices. The USDA says there could be an increase, but economist Stan Bevers with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service is reluctant to agree.
“From a food standpoint, I hesitate to say there’s a big increase in food prices coming, because I don’t think there is,” Bevers says. “Will it have a small impact? Yeah, sure it will – right along with everything else.”
Bevers says that although some Texas farmers can expect to benefit from the Midwest drought, most of them will not. The high plains – from Lubbock to Amarillo – are a hot spot for corn, but those areas haven’t seen as much rain as Central Texas.
“They’re experiencing the same drought that the Midwest is,” Bevers says. “And even more so because we’ve been in it since last year and the Midwest is just getting in it this year. The net benefit isn’t a benefit at all. It’s a detriment.”
Recent rains helped most of Central Texas move from a severe drought category to a moderate one. In the Midwest, moderate to extreme drought conditions are expected to continue through at least the end of the month.