Midwestern Drought Couldn

USDA Meteorologist Brady Rippey says if you had to invent a map with the worst possible scenario for U.S. producers – you probably couldn’t draw a better depiction than what’s on the U.S. Drought Monitor right now. There’s only been a one-percent expansion of the drought this week – according to USDA – but conditions are getting worse in areas affected. Eighty-nine-percent of the corn area is in some type of drought – but Rippey says the coverage in extreme to exceptional drought surged.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner says he plans to deal with emergency livestock drought aid in the House this week – but four-working days before the August recess the 2012 Farm Bill is not on the remaining schedule.

It was the third week for the farm bill issue. Each week before – Speaker Boehner had answered the same boilerplate comment – no decisions have been made on the farm bill yet. Now the clock is up. The House adjourns for its regular August recess Friday – just eight-working days remain in September before the current farm bill expires – and the 2012 Farm Bill is not on next week’s schedule. When asked about renewing livestock disaster aid next week either as part of a farm bill or an extension – Boehner answered just part of the question…

“I do believe that the house will address the livestock disaster program that unfortunately in the last farm bill was only authorized for four years.”

Boehner suggested week crop insurance was enough to get producers through the drought – but that comment quickly drew fire from ag lawmakers and producers who cited the livestock issue. Boehner adjusted his answer …

“We are continuing to work with Chairman Lucas and members of his committee on an appropriate path forward.”

Cattle Could Get Different Dining Experience

This summer's drought and sweltering heat have been hard on corn crops, and researchers at Clemson University are looking at alternative foods for the country's cattle. Researchers say feeding cattle grasses instead of corn may be an effective way to deal with this year's situation. John Andrae, a forage expert at Clemson recently worked on a study that focused on alternative feeds like Bermuda grass, alfalfa and cowpea. Another ongoing study is comparing grasses and legumes like soybeans.

Economy Still Moving Forward at Snail’s Pace

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.5 percent from April through June, as Americans cut back sharply on spending. The slowest growth in a year adds to worries that the economy could be stalling three years after the recession ended. The Commerce Department also says the economy grew a little better than previously thought in the January-March quarter. It raised its estimate to a 2 percent rate, up from 1.9 percent. Looking ahead, Gus Faucher Senior Economist at PNC Bank expects to see stronger economic numbers:

“We are getting some bounce from the housing market, which is an area is defiantly doing better. We are seeing starts up, sales up and prices improving. So that should provide support to the economy.”

Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine Expands in Virginia

Virginia has expanded its quarantine for the emerald ash borer statewide. Under the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services quarantine, live ash and lumber ash-related articles as well as hardwood firewood are no longer subject to localized movement in certain parts of the state. The expansion has occurred because the highly destructive beetle most recently has been discovered in Buchanan, Caroline, Giles, Hanover, Lee, Prince Edward, Stafford and Warren counties. It already has been discovered in numerous other localities.

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