Iowa Public Television


Drought Toll Continues To Mount

posted on August 9, 2002

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

The reality that the nation's economy hasn't been doing all that well was tempered this week by the hope that those in power may do something about it.

Government reports show consumers are starting to pass up buying opportunities on big ticket items. Wholesale inflation dipped by 2-tenths of a percent last month. Given the benign inflation environment and fears the economy could begin to contract, many in the investment community now see a Federal Reserve rollback of interest rates as likely. That belief pushed stock indices higher on the week.

In Rural America hope is invested in more tangible fundamentals like supply and demand, or the weather, a factor that can determine either. Nowhere are such fundamentals more in play than the agricultural marketplace.


Drought Toll Continues To Mount

Auction barns on the high plains are only the first wave of the impact that has gripped much of farm country. Ranchers in states like South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado have been hit hard. With several months left in the grazing season as much of 90 percent of the pastures in those states are rated very poor to poor.

While the poorest winter wheat harvest in thirty years is nearing completion, reports of similar discouraging yields from the spring wheat harvest are trickling back from parched fields.

In the trading pits the impact of the drought has propelled futures prices higher in recent weeks. But this week with an eye toward next week's government crop projections, along with other factors like export demand and projections for South American plantings, trading has been more cautious.


Tags: agriculture crops drought markets news weather