Concerns grow about rising costs, assistance available to farmers due to drought

Oct 15, 2012

As of last Wednesday, the USDA had designated two-thirds of all counties in the U.S. as disaster areas due to drought.

The National Drought Mitigation Center says 78 percent of Nebraska remains in an exceptional drought. As of last Thursday, 75 percent of Iowa was experiencing extreme or exceptionally dry conditions.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach says this year’s drought hit livestock producers particularly hard. He says feed and fuel costs continue to rise at a time when farmers are struggling to deal with the impact of exceptionally dry conditions.

A report published by the UNL-based National Drought Mitigation Center says livestock production accounts for two-thirds of all farm income in Nebraska.

Meanwhile, agriculture officials say a new farm bill is critical to helping producers recover from the drought. Thomas Guevara of the Economic Development Administration’s Office of Rural Affairs says the drought impacted not only producers, but the businesses in small communities that depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says assistance to producers is limited. House lawmakers won’t vote on a new farm bill until after the election.

Ibach and Guevara’s comments came last week at a USDA regional meeting in Omaha about the drought.