More Than Half of Continental US in Drought

Posted July 16th, 2012 at 7:00 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. officials say more than half of the continental United States is in a moderate to extreme drought — the widest drought in 56 years.

The Department of Agriculture has declared a natural disaster in parts of 26 of the lower 48 states. Weather forecasters say they expect almost no rain this week and little relief from the extreme heat baking corn and soybean fields across the Midwest.

Corn that should be towering over farmers' heads is barely waist high. Some soybean crops have simply stopped growing. Some farmers say they are already fearing for this fall's pumpkin and squash crops.

The severe conditions also are affecting ranchers in other parts of the country who depend on corn and hay to feed cattle.

The United States is the world's top grower and exporter of corn. But USDA spokesman Matt Herrick tells VOA that healthier corn crops in other parts of the country mean the United States will be able to meet obligations this year for its overseas customers.