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The year of 2012 was a particularly difficult one for farmers across the US. Not only was it the hottest  year on record – drought conditions also brought extreme weather that pushed up food costs as yields suffered. Now, according to a recent report from the USDA, we can see just how bad the year was and which states had it the worst. The hardest hit state was Kentucky, with corn yields half of what they were in 2009. Missouri, Indiana and Illinois all had harvests that reached 20-year lows. All told, at least 80 percent of the US was touched by drought – and some experts are predicting that last year’s devastating drought will continue in 2013, putting even more pressure on farmers (and crop insurers).

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Corn wasn’t the only crop that suffered; soybean yields were also down, particularly in Kansas, where yields were half of what they were in 2009. Sorghum yields in Kansas (the top producer in the US) and Illinois were the lowest they have been in nearly 30 years.

The drought has showed no signs of easing, with mid-February marking the 34th consecutive week where half of the country has experienced drought conditions. The fear that droughts may become more frequent as the planet continues to warm raises has sparked concerns about the cost of food in the future.

Government farm subsidies reached at least 14 billion dollars in 2012 and crop insurance payouts reached new records, which, along with a higher price for crops, offset drought-related profit losses.The USDA is expected to release full final crop values for 2012 on Friday.

Via The Guardian

Images © Kecko and USDA