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Record US Drought Causes Corn Shortage, Price Hikes

Common Dreams staff

A corn crop withers in the sun on Thursday in western Kentucky. (Allie Douglass/The Paducah Sun/Associated Press)

Due to extreme drought conditions and record heat waves across the country, corn yields are projected to be the lowest in nearly a decade, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The statistics have also sparked concern over food prices in the near future.

The USDA expects that this year's corn crop will average 146 bushels an acre, a 20 bushel decrease from its last estimation.

"Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we had 108F. It just pretty much fried the corn," David Kellerman, a farmer in southern Illinois, told the Associated Press.

By the beginning of July, 56 percent of the country was experiencing drought conditions, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said was the largest drought footprint of the 21st century. Due to these extreme conditions, products such as corn, soybeans, and wheat cannot thrive.

Subsequently, corn prices have gone up by more than a third over the past month - a rate at which experts say is alarming.

"They sent a signal of, 'Listen, we got a serious problem here'," said Don Roose, an analyst with U.S. Commodities, in reference to the USDA's announcement.

Experts say the price of meat and many other foods could also skyrocket due to projected corn, soybean, and wheat shortages, as they make up the ingredients of many of the foods found in the grocery store and also provide feed for livestock.

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