- The next 10 days are crucial according to Mark Maloney, the Merrill branch manager of Russ Davis Wholesale.
He says his buyers warn prices for crops like corn and cucumbers can increase 5 to 10 percent. That is if northern Wisconsin does not see enough rain in the next week and a half.
Bryan Bowen, Superintendent of the Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station, says, "Everything's reaching a relatively critical stage and as temperatures rise, and plants are stressed, pollination doesn't necessarily occur effectively, and that, in the case of the corn crop, is going to have a huge impact over the next couple of weeks."
The Midwest is experiencing varying degrees of drought. That has made wholesalers more dependent on local farmers here in the north.
Bowen says, "The big issue nationally is in the corn belt because food prices and the whole agricultural industry is based on corn, whether it's processed for human consumption or fed to cattle or animals for production of meat crops."
Corn in northern Wisconsin is doing well because of the recent heat and rainfall. Maloney says depending on local farmers for some crops may impact prices in the future. It's simple supply and demand: as crop supplies decrease, prices increase, taking more money out of our pockets.
The end of July and the beginning of August is when corn prices are lowest because they are harvested. That could now be in jeopardy if the weather does not cooperate.
Farmers' inability to grow crops in the southern part of the state means they may not be able to feed their herd. That means some of them may have to be slaughtered.
Bowen says, "there's a fair amount of hay imported to northern Wisconsin from other parts of the state. And as growers face shortages of rain in central and eastern Wisconsin, we're going to see hay prices go up along with corn."
But how can the slaughtering of cattle impact the entire food industry?
"If they don't have the forage and the corn to feed livestock they're going to trim their numbers and that's going to ripple effect through the food chain and prices are going to go up over the next year because the throughput isn't there," says Bowen.
Farmers in the central and southern part of the state have already taken a hit.
Bowen says many growers "insure their crops and so there will be some capacity to recover their input expenses. There are going to be loans made available through the emergency declaration by the government that will help people reach into the next year."
It is important to note that northern Wisconsin is not currently in a short term drought but is experiencing a long term drought.
The central and southern parts of the state are experiencing a short term drought but not a long term drought.
|Story By: Lauren Stephenson