US Farmers Hit Hard by Never-Ending Drought

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This summer continues to break heat records. A new report shows the Northeast experienced its warmest seven-month period since 1895.

And it's not just residents in the Northeast sweating it out. Farmers are feeling the impact of a record drought. And the government is taking action to help.

Never-Ending Drought

It's the drought that never ends. Farmers say rains over the weekend did little to ease the stress of the heat and drought on their crops. And with little change in the weather predicted, they're expecting the worst, come harvest time.

"We had the table set for a really good crop and the rain shut-off," Frick Services Grain Elevator Manager Roger Mochel said.

"This has been the hottest, driest summer that I can remember. Now my father says that 1936 was drier, but then I was only 2 years old then," Missouri farmer Charles Hurst said.

So far, 1,500 counties in 32 states have been declared disaster areas. This means farmers and ranchers in those areas are eligible for federal aid.

That includes low-interest emergency loans, 3.8 million acres more grazing land, and a grace period on insurance premiums due.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is working to find even more ways to help farmers hit hard by drought.

President Obama authorized $30 million more in drought aid.

"This has been an all-hands-on-deck response," he said. "But obviously we've got a lot more to do because a lot of folks are being affected by this."

The hardest hit crops are corn and soybean. Shortages are driving prices up and so is ethanol production.

The Environmental Protection Agency requires ethanol to be added to gasoline. About 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used to make ethanol.

Where's the Beef?

Lawmakers say that's causing higher prices. All this has a ripple effect on the meat industry, with farmers cutting down their herds as the cost of grain to feed the animals rises.

"We're going to produce in the U.S. roughly a billion fewer pounds of beef. That's a 4 percent decline in 2012 than last year," Agrilife Extension Livestock Marketing Economist David Anderson said.

As farmers in every industry are forced to pay more and produce less, consumers will see a price increase at the grocery store.

The cost of beef, dairy, chicken, and bakery products are all expected to increase.

Officials say consumers can expect price hikes at the grocery store through at least the end of the year.

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