The drought is taking a toll on Illinois farmers

January 11, 2013

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Illinois farmers could see a reduced crop production again this year because of the drought affecting much of the state.

Experts say this is the worse dry season in more than 50 years.

Ron Kindred owns a corn and soybean farm in Central Illinois. He produced about half of the corn crop in 2012 and is worried that the soil will get enough moisture to generate a good yield this year.

“There is the potential that this next year we will have a lesser crop,” Kindred said.

The drought is already threatening to affect local economies, particularly in rural areas.

Rick Graden is the executive officer of the Illinois Farm Service Agency of the USDA. He said the region is “at the mercy of the weather” and without the rain or snow farmers could again experience tough times.

“We had farmers that produced zero corn, zero soybeans,” he said. “Producers even reduced their inventory or livestock and animals because they didn’t have the feed to feed them.”

Dairy farms are also being affected by a toxin called aflatoxin that’s infecting the corn that feeds cows.

According to Graden, dairy farmers have to dump thousands of gallons of milk down the drain because it can’t be used for human consumption.

Despite the alarming dry season, Graden said Illinois has great amounts of food reserves. Still, prices could increase four percent this year because of the drought.