Drought divides the heartland

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click image to zoomDrought MonitorThe Drought Monitor map released on Aug. 14, 2014. A mild, wet summer has given the northern tier of the heartland a break from drought, while the drought still has a firm grip on states in the Central and Southern Plains.

For majority of the High Plains and Midwest, drought has become a relatively nonexistent issue. For now, areas of abnormal dryness or moderate drought dot the region.

Further to the south, however, the drought tells a different story. From Kansas to Texas, drought still dominates the landscape, though conditions have improved over the last several months according to latest Drought Monitor report:

Figure 1: Percentage of Central, Southern Plains in Extreme (D3) or Exceptional Drought (D4)

State

Report as of 8/12/2014 Report as of 5/13/2014

Kansas

6.26%

48.05%

Oklahoma

16.12%

64.46%

Texas

14.06%

39.88%

Click here to read more from the Drought Monitor report.

According to the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, a recent report shows the drought in Texas and Oklahoma is driving both cattle raising and meatpacking businesses north to Nebraska and Iowa.

“The industry’s geographic perimeter is narrowing around the Northern Plains, the Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska ... Iowa and Missouri,” the report says. “Prolonged droughts in the Southern Plains and California since 2011 have accelerated a long-term shift of the cattle and cattle-slaughter industry toward the Midwest.”

Earlier this year, Nebraska passed Texas as the No. 1 state with the most cattle on feed.

“The U.S. herd numbers have been declining for several years,” said Kathleen Brooks, a professor of ag economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “But it has not been as big of an impact on Nebraska as it has been on Texas and others.”

Read, “Droughts prod beef business northward to Nebraska, Iowa.”

There is good news on the horizon, at least for most of the heartland: with the exception of parts of central and western Texas, the U.S.  Seasonal Drought Outlook shows relief and even drought removal could be seen in both Kansas and Oklahoma. No re-development is anticipated over the rest of the Corn Belt.

However bad the drought in southern portions of the heartland, it still pales in comparison of the drought in California. See, “California’s drought worst since at least 1895.”


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