NewsHour Connect: Heat Wave Imperils Midwest Agriculture

BY Justin Scuiletti  July 28, 2011 at 2:41 PM EDT



Temperatures have been rising in the Midwest this summer — and with them, food prices may also be heading upward.

As heat waves have been blanketing much of the nation in temperatures over 100 degrees, agriculture has been suffering as farmers across states such as Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma have seen their crops decimated in a summer that had already brought a hazardous drought. The lack of water has proven especially disastrous for a late-pollinating corn crop, which has forced many farmers to abandon their plantings because in many cases even irrigation can not provide the water quickly enough before the moisture in the soil evaporates.

Lack of corn has also created a shortage of food for cattle, forcing farmers to either ship in feed at higher cost, in addition to the setbacks they are already facing, or auction off their stock earlier than usual.

Frank Morris and Eric Durban of Harvest Public Media, a Local Journalism Center formed from six Midwest public broadcasting stations dedicated to agricultural reporting, talked with Hari Sreenivasan about the troubles local farmers are facing with their crops and cattle, and how their problems in the field can eventually translate into problems in consumers’ wallets.