Drought has taken hold in large swaths of the U.S. heartland, and the economic consequences could be enormous. Check these sites to track the effects on your wallet.
"America's breadbasket is baking to a crisp," says writer Maureen Mackey in this post at the Fiscal Times that pulls together some alarming statistics on the spiking prices of corn and soybeans and the staggering 88 percent of corn crops now in drought-stricken regions of the U.S.
There is an alarming map showing the extent of the current drought at this website. Who knew the U.S. government had a National Integrated Drought Information System? The group coordinating information about droughts and how to handle them maintains this Web portal and organizes preparedness events, including "drought webinars." A news feed chronicles the travails of farmers and ranchers as dry conditions hammer their crops and livestock.
The American Red Cross has some detailed advice for how to deal with drought conditions. These apply to individuals and communities, and include at-home advice to repair plumbing leaks and put a bucket in the shower to collect excess water for the garden, along with municipal guidelines for water restrictions and other conservation measures.
The Department of Agriculture's report last week on the drought brought sharp attention to the issue and warned that the economic impact likely will be most severe in 2013, when drought-related shortages of meat and other foods hit consumers in the pocketbook. Here is the USDA's statement on the drought.
Here is the department's page on "disaster and drought assistance" with details on programs to assist communities and farmers. Information here includes the surprising fact that drought affects about a third of U.S. counties each year.