Immediate And Long Term Effects of Summer Drought
This year’s summer drought is having immediate and long term effects on a variety of things including farmers, transportation, and consumers.
The summer drought has devastated both farmers and livestock owners. Grain yields in Missouri could drop to 50% below normal levels. In South Dakota and North Dakota yields could be well below 30% normal levels. The US Department of Agriculture has reduced it’s estimate of corn yields by 20 bushels per acre and has also reported 38% of the crop is doing poorly. Of course a reduction in crops means higher prices. With these higher prices, livestock owners are having a more difficult time feeding their chickens, hogs, and cattle.
River transportation has been effected adversely as well. Water levels in Memphis were at minus 4.8 feet on July 20. In Arkansas water levels are so low on the Mississippi barges must pass through a series of river locks and in New Orleans the wood pilings of the wharves near the French Quarter has been exposed due to the low river level. The low water in the Mississippi has caused barges to reduce their shipment weights on cargo such as coal, grain, iron, steel and more.
Motor carriers have experienced a toll from the heat as well. Multiple problems have included a higher rate on tire blow outs, an increase in water pump and water hose failures, and an additional strain on drivers.
Ultimately long term effects will impact consumers. According the US Department of Agriculture consumers are unlikely to see higher food prices immediately but likely to see the increases in 2013. The severe drought across the Midwest has sent the price of corn, soybeans, and wheat soaring which will eventually increase the prices for meat and other products. The effect on prices wont be clear until it is clear how severe the drought has been and how much of the corn crop has been destroyed.