Thursday, October 18, 2012

Crop insurance payouts likely to hit $15 billion; drought news gets only slightly better

The long, dry, hot summer will cost U.S. taxpayers big -- a record $15 billion. That is the amount that the Farm Bill's privately run crop-insurance program will pay to farmers affected by this year's losses. The program's runaway costs are in focus as Congress looks for ways to cut government spending, making crop insurance an even bigger target for reforms than it already might have been. Lawmakers return to Washington next month. (Read more)

As for the drought itself, there was some relief, at last, from one coast to another as storm systems pushed through some very dry parts of the nation this week. Still, 62.4 percent of the nation is still experiencing "moderate" drought, down from 63.5 percent a week earlier, according to Thursday's Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists. Reuters is reporting that "the portion of the United States under 'exceptional' drought' -- the direst classification -- fell to 5.8 percent, from 6.2 percent a week earlier." The worst news is still reserved for the High Plains -- some parts of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas -- where drought classified as "severe" or worse covered more than 87 percent of the region. (Read more)

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