Drought

Molly Messick / StateImpact

Some of Idaho’s most fertile farm ground has been hit by the drought that’s crippling crops nationwide.  Farmers who have deep wells and irrigation are faring well.  Those who don’t aren’t.  It’s one indication of the very different economics of dry-land and irrigated farming.

drought, field, agriculture
Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

In Idaho’s arid, high desert, the drought has a mixed effect.  There’s a big divide between farmers with deep wells and irrigation, and those without.

Hans Hayden is a rare find: a talkative farmer.  He likes to explain things.  But when it comes to the wheat he planted this spring, there’s not much to say.  This field needed rain it didn’t get. 

The drought that hit the West from 2000-2004 is not only the worst in 800 years, but it could be the new “normal”. That’s according to new research in the journal Nature Geoscience.

You’d have to go back to the middle ages to find a period as dry as 2000-2004 in the American West.

Snowpack decreased. Crop productivity in much of the west went down by 5-percent.

And that’s not the worst of it, the researchers say.

Anna King / Northwest news Network

Drought that’s sizzling the rest of the nation has largely left the Northwest states alone. Furthermore, the Midwest’s farmers’ misfortune is actually benefiting farmers here.

That’s because grain prices are going up due to the Heartland’s decimated yields. Meanwhile, many Northwest farmers crops are above average.

Todd Ray is the owner of 10 New Holland tractor dealerships in Washington and Oregon. He says Northwest farmers may be doing better than the rest of the country, but they still have to think about high input costs –- like gas, tires and fertilizer.

Drought Could Have Mixed Impacts On Idaho Farmers

Jul 24, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

The drought that’s gripped much of the country is hurting farmers from Texas to North Dakota. And here in Idaho, the effects of drought could be mixed for farmers and consumers.

Take your average grocery bill. Expect it to go up because of the drought says Paul Paterson.  The agriculture economist with the University of Idaho says the decimation of Midwestern crops like corn and wheat will increase the cost of most processed foods.

Dry Conditions For Idaho’s Dryland Farmers

May 30, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Last year, farmers and ranchers in southeast Idaho had a hard time getting crops in the ground because of persistent wet weather.  This year they’re facing the opposite problem, as weeks have passed without substantial rainfall.

University of Idaho agricultural economist Paul Patterson says irrigated areas in the region are faring well because of water left in storage from last year.  But dryland farmers, whose croplands aren’t irrigated, are less fortunate.  Those south of the Snake River in Power, Bannock and Oneida Counties appear to be hardest hit.

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