While Texas has partially recovered from drought conditions thanks to heavy rain, the Midwest is going through one its worst drought years in decades. And conditions may impact some – but not all – Texas farmers’ pocketbooks.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the nation is going through the worst agricultural drought since 1988. For corn and soybean growers it’s been especially harmful, since more than three-quarters of those crops are considered to be in a drought area. But that could actually prove to be beneficial for Texas.
“With the Midwest suffering from drought, that’s driving prices up," says Bob Rose, chief meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority. "So 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 drought, the USDA has lowered projections for corn yields, but adds there could still be an increase. Yet Stan Bevers, an economist 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 – but 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 they haven’t seen the amounts of rain that Central Texas has.
“They’re experiencing the same drought that the Midwest is and even more so, because we’ve been in it since last year and the Midwest is just getting in it this year," Bevers says. "The net benefit isn’t a benefit at all. It’s a detriment.”
Recent rains have lifted most of Central Texas from a “severe” to “moderate” stage of drought. For the Midwest, "moderate" to "extreme" drought conditions are expected to continue through at least the end of the month.