THE GREAT DROUGHT OF 2011 Is America's Worst Since The Dust Bowl

Fourteen states are suffering from a drought so early and severe that it’s already causing comparisons with the dust bowl years of the 1930’s.

According to a story in The New York Times, farmers are running wells dry, crops aren’t growing and livestock can’t be fed.

It’s horrible so far,” said Mike Newberry, a Georgia farmer who is trying grow cotton, corn and peanuts on a thousand acres. “There is no description for what we’ve been through since we started planting corn in March.”

David Miskus with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the reason for the drought is simple. “A strong La NiƱa shut off the southern pipeline of moisture.”

This year looks to be as bad as the record breaking drought of the 1950s.

But this time, things are different in the drought belt. With states and towns short on cash and unemployment still high, the stress on the land and the people who rely on it for a living is being amplified by political and economic forces, state and local officials say. As a result, this drought is likely to have the cultural impact of the great 1930s drought, which hammered an already weakened nation.

“In the ’30s, you had the Depression and everything that happened with that, and drought on top,” said Donald A. Wilhite, director of the school of natural resources at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and former director of the National Drought Mitigation centre. “The combination of those two things was devastating.”

Expect to see low beef prices in the immediate as farmers sell off herds they can’t afford to feed, followed by high prices as supply dries up. Crop prices may rise as farmers pass on irrigation costs.


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