This summer's drought has hit more than half the states in the country. Crops are suffering, but farmers might not be. Most farmers have crop insurance.
U.S. taxpayers spend about $7 billion a year on crop insurance. It's our largest farm subsidy.
And this subsidy goes in part to farmers — who will tell you themselves they aren't so sure about the whole idea. "I have an aversion to it," says Jim Traub, a corn and bean farmer in Fairbury, Illinois. "But you're not going to turn it down."
In the high-profile race for U.S. Senate in Missouri, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill is seizing on this year’s drought to win support among rural voters.
Speaking at the historic Soulard Farmers Market, Senator McCaskill laid in to her opponent in the November election—Republican Congressman Todd Akin—for his opposition the Senate version of the federal farm bill, which includes disaster assistance for farmers reeling from this year’s record drought.
Were it not for Republicans like Todd Akin, McCaskill says that relief would be on its way to farmers and ranchers.
Dairy cows feed at Heins Family Farm near Higginsville, Mo. Fans and misters keep the barns cool during this summer's record temperatures.
Credit Scott Pham for NPR
The new smartphone app Thermal Aid can help farmers detect the threat of heat stress in cows.
Credit Courtesy of the University of Missouri
Herd manager Chris Heins greets a calf at his dairy farm near Higginsville, Mo. It will be about two years before a calf like this one is ready to be milked, so keeping them comfortable and healthy is a top concern.
When it's hot and humid, you probably don't want to move much and aren't very hungry. The same goes for cows; but when they don't eat, farmers lose money.
Researchers at the University of Missouri think they can help avoid those losses. They've produced a new mobile app that can detect the threat of heat stress in cows using nothing more than a smartphone.
Corn plants dry in a drought-stricken farm field on July 17 near Fritchton, Ind. The corn and soybean belt in the middle of the nation is experiencing one of the worst droughts in more than five decades.
Stop by most any unirrigated farm across the lower Midwest and you'll see crops in distress. Midwestern corn and soybean farmers are taking a beating during the recent drought, but it's not likely to drive many out of business.
Most of those farmers carry terrific insurance, and the worse the drought becomes, the more individual farmers will be paid for their lost crops. The federal government picks up most of the cost of the crop insurance program, and this year that bill is going to be a whopper.
Updated with comments from McCaskill conference call.
The entire state of Missouri is now a federal agriculture disaster area.
Seventeen of the state's counties, mostly in the Bootheel, had already received that declaration. Today's announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture extends that declaration to the other 97 counties and the city of St. Louis.
Gov. Jay Nixon wants federal agriculture officials to determine whether heat and drought conditions are taking a toll on Missouri's crops and livestock. The National Climatic Data Center says moderate drought conditions persist across nearly 87 percent of Missouri. And extreme drought conditions exist in southeast Missouri.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will be in St. Louis today to sign legislation that allows people to add cellphones to the state’s Do Not Call list.
Nixon created the list when he was attorney general. Cellphone numbers added to the list would be off limits to most solicitations, including text messages.
Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office maintains the list, is expected to join Nixon. Koster says his office gets nearly 200 complaints a week from cellphone users about unwanted telemarketing calls.