Official: Iowa Suffering Worst Drought Since 1988

KCCI.com

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Iowa's corn and pork producers are warning Gov. Terry Branstad Tuesday that tough times are looming for farmers as the drought gripping the state and nation gets worse.

The comments came in a forum Branstad hosted Tuesday in Mount Pleasant to discuss what Iowa climatologist Harry Hillaker called the worst state drought since 1988.

Wayne Humphreys, a Columbus Junction farmer and member with the Iowa Corn Growers Association, showed Branstad corn from his field that he said was deteriorating.

He said farmers who have a tough year "will get despondent and withdraw" and develop stress and health problems.

Bill Kettinger of the Iowa Pork Producers Association said the drought is causing a spike in feed prices that "may be on the verge of creating a financial disaster for the pork industry."

Branstad said he is hopeful the federal farm bill that passed in the U.S. Senate and has come out of a House committee will be approved. It would reinstate assistance for the livestock industry that is also feeling the economic crunch of the drought.

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said the drought is rapidly intensifying.

"We've had two really dry weeks in a row now, and both weeks rather on the warm side as well, which doesn't help either," Hillaker said.Officials said only about 34 percent of Iowa's corn crop is in good shape, down from 80 percent from a year ago.

"Things still keep getting worse, and kind of looks to stay that way according what the forecast is," Hillaker said.
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