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Gov. Seeks Federal Aid For 14 Drought-Stricken Counties As Crop Losses Escalate

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The drought is cutting so deeply into Maryland crops, the governor is asking the federal government to declare 14 counties drought disaster zones.

Alex DeMetrick reports, that could bring some financial relief as losses mount.

During a harvest, one acre produces hundreds of bushels of corn to feed livestock. But not now.

“This is probably our worst field. But we’ll probably average 15 to 20 bushels on our dry land,” Scott Youse, a Caroline County farmer, said.

DeMetrick: “An acre?”
Youse: “An acre, compared to irrigated. Hopefully, that’ll average 180 to 200 bushels.”

There are parts of Maryland where rain has fallen and corn is doing better. Sometimes it’s the distance between neighbors.

“Right over the woods, one farmer to another, might see an inch of rain. The other won’t see any,” Allen Davis, a Kent County farmer, said.

Those that aren’t seeing any adds up to 14 counties. Maryland is asking the feds for a drought disaster declaration with its low interest loans.

“Mostly on the lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland, where we’ve seen a significant drop in precipitation, and at least a 30 percent reduction in yield is predicted,” Buddy Hance, secretary for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, said.

But some farms are looking at greater losses.

“In our section of the county, we’re hoping to get half a crop,” Davis said.

That means, what gets harvested to feed livestock is going to cost a lot more, forcing some to sell off animals.

“It’s terrible,” Youse said.

The impact of the drought won’t stop at the farm. Down the road, we’ll all feel it.

“There will be a higher price, probably in the Spring, for meat products and dairy and poultry,” Hance said.

Because by spring, fewer animals will be in the food chain. Economic casualties of too little to eat at too high a cost.

Besides the possibility of low interest loans to cover losses, many farmers choose to pay for crop insurance, just in case years like this happen.

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