According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, 62 percent of U.S. farms are now affected by drought conditions which stretch across the country from Rhode Island to California in the continental U.S. and includes most of Hawaii.
In Ohio there are currently four counties in the state’s northwest corner with USDA drought designation: Williams, Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert. Ohio’s four counties are listed as “contiguous designations” as they are adjacent to four counties in Indiana which are counties with “primary” designations.
The ERS says on its website that it’s impossible to say exactly how much food prices will be impacted by the drought, but does say based on past experience and how inputs move through our system of food that consumers can expect the following:
- Beef, pork, poultry and dairy prices will likely begin to be impacted in two months. Packaged and processed foods with corn and soybean inputs could take 10 to 12 months for full price impacts.
- When herds are culled during droughts, there could be some short-term price reductions in certain meat products due to increased short-term supply.
- Historically, if the farm price of corn increases 50 percent, then retail food prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases by 0.5 to 1 percent. More generally, as an overall commodity price index increases, about 14 to 15 percent of that increase is passed on to retail prices for products that use that commodity as an ingredient.
- Based on 2010 data 2/3 of U.S. crops and 2/3 of U.S. livestock are in drought areas.
A few online resources
- The USDA’s Drought Page – contains the latest news releases and other information from USDA focusing on agency actions and farmer assistance due to the drought.
- The U.S. Drought Monitor – is a multi-agency effort focused on recording the drought levels and severity across the U.S. The map on this page is related the severity of drought, not whether a particular county has been designated by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack or any other official as in an emergency or other special status.
- The National Drought Mitigation Center – focuses on drought impacts and the science of droughts.
- The Office of the State Climatologist for Ohio – contains many links to climate and weather-related information regarding Ohio.
- Ohio Dept. of Agriculture Drought Information Page – contains links to information including SBA loan information for those affected by the drought.
- OSU Extension – Managing the Drought of 2012 – tons of information and links covering farm and home topics.