Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack believes the severity of the drought may be peaking – with the overall impact beginning to decline. He notes the effects on corn and soybeans likely won’t be known until harvest – but says steadying weather conditions might limit food inflation next year and ease pressure to relax the Renewable Fuel Standard ethanol mandate. For the first time this year – USDA reported last Monday (August 13) the condition of the soybean crop actually improved – albeit slightly. The good to excellent ratings for the corn crop stayed even at 23-percent. The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that the drought in the lower 48 eased to 61.8-percent from 62.5-percent. Even so – the lower temperatures and rain forecast for parts of the Midwest won’t be enough to snap the drought. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says drought conditions will persist in much of the Corn Belt and Great Plains through November.