The most severe and extensive drought in at least 25 years is seriously affecting U.S. agriculture, with impacts on the crop and livestock sectors and with the potential to affect food prices at the retail level. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service has released current information on potential impacts of the drought on key commodities and food prices.
Drought-induced prospects for significantly higher feed prices and heat stress on crops, pastures and livestock are likely to restrain growth of U.S. cattle and hog breeding herds as well as poultry and milk production. Following on the heels of last year's drought in the Southern United States, this year's lack-of-adequate rainfall over more than half of the country has resulted in reduced corn and soybean crops, higher prices for corn, soybean meal, and other feed, and reduced availability of hay and pasture.
As of Oct. 14, 55 percent of the U.S. pastures and ranges were rated poor to very poor. Lack of pasture is inducing growers to place livestock on feed at lower weights. The impact is likely to result in greater production declines in 2013 than in 2012, potentially leading to higher prices in 2013 and beyond.
The full report is available at www.ers.usda.gov/topics/in-the-news/us-drought-2012-farm-and-food-impacts.aspx.