February 6, 2016

U-S ag boss is becoming more concerned about crops & drought

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack

The hot, dry weather that’s plaguing much of the nation’s Corn Belt is leading the USDA to reduce its estimated corn yield for the season by about 12% nationwide.

The U.S. Ag Secretary says worries are growing as crop conditions in the Midwest worsen. Secretary Tom Vilsack says a bad crop year would mean reversing course on an ag economy that’s done very well in recent years.

Vilsack says they’re always concerned with the momentum slowing down after seeing agriculture, as well as ag machinery and ag manufacturing doing so well.

He says the country continues to export at a very rapid rate, so the world wants what we produce. He says one out of 12 jobs in the economy is connected to agriculture and he wants to keep that going.

Vilsack says if farmers didn’t buy crop insurance, they won’t be able to rely on a disaster program this year.

He says the reality is, there’s no disaster programs and he hopes farmers have crop insurance. Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says the crop insurance won’t cover everything, but at least it will be something. He says there will be low-interest loans through the USDA, but their capacity to help is very limited absent a “food, farm and jobs” bill being passed in Congress.

This week’s U-S-D-A crop report showed only 47% of Nebraska’s corn crop rated as good to excellent. It’s normally about 81% at this time of year. The state’s soybean crop is also suffering, at 41% good to excellent. About 79% would be normal.

Nebraska’s wheat harvest is almost finished, roughly three weeks ahead of schedule.

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