The most expansive U.S. drought in more than half a century has created “very, very bad” conditions for Midwestern farmers, Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
“There’s lots of inconsistencies throughout the fields, and it looks very, very bad,” Stutzman, a Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee, tells Newsmax. “There’s going to be a lot of fields out there that just are not going to produce anything.
“Farmers are definitely in a very difficult position this year to make decisions on how they’re going to utilize any crop that’s out there and maximize any profits that might be possible to make off the crop.”
Watch the exclusive interview here.
The drought grew more dire in the farming states of the Midwest and High Plains, wilting corn and soybean crops and sapping already-damaged yield potential, climate experts said Thursday.
Half of the Midwest, which produces about 75 percent of the nation’s corn and soybeans, was in severe to exceptional drought, the Drought Monitor reports. That’s up from about a third of the region a week earlier.
Meanwhile, the drought also tightened its grip on such High Plains states as Kansas and Nebraska – with 68 percent of the six-state region in severe drought or worse. That was up from 56 percent the prior week, according to the Drought Monitor.
“This drought is going to affect the corn crop and affect the soybean crop this year,” said Stutzman, a fourth-generation farmer. “Farmers are definitely in a difficult position this year, but many of them have crop insurance.
“We all know – we never hope for it, we never wish for it – but we know that this is the reality of farming, that years like this can happen where there just isn’t rain to develop the crop. There’s definitely going to be a loss this year.”
For consumers, Stutzman said, the effects on the drought will play out at the supermarket – with higher costs for produce and for products made with corn and soybeans.
It also will devalue food stamps for low-income families, he said.
“As the price of food goes up, it devalues the value of food stamps – just like it takes more dollars to buy food because the price of food goes up,” Stutzman said. “There’s definitely going to be an impact.
“It’s definitely going to affect food prices, and people are already speculating that to be the case, which will not only cost families more to put food on the table, but it also will diminish the value of food stamps as well.”
But Congress should not act just yet to compensate farmers for this year’s losses, the first-term legislator said.
“It’s important that we realize that there is a major drought, one of the hardest since 1988, which I remember very well and which was very difficult,” Stutzman said.
“We definitely need to realize that it’s there, but at the same time, I don’t think we should jump too soon to mitigate anything.”
Because “farmers plan ahead – and we live in the world of averages,” Congress should not act “before we really know the facts – and to see what the crop is, once it’s harvested.
“Then, we can determine, moving forward, what’s the best options in making sure that we mitigate the costs and investment that farmers make that may have been lost.”
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