The hot, dry weather that’s plaguing much of the nation’s Corn Belt is leading the U.S.D,A. to reduce its estimated corn yield for the season. The agency’s chief economist Joe Glabuer says the yield estimate was cut by about 12%, taking it down to 146-bushels per acre nationwide.

“I don’t think that anyone is going to be surprised at the estimate in and of itself just because we saw from June 1st, about 13-percent in drought conditions and now 60% of the crop in drought.” Iowa corn growers pulled in an average of 172 bushels per acre last year, but the new estimates show it’ll be closer to 160 bushels per acre this year.

The head of the U.S.D.A. says worries are growing as crop conditions in the Midwest worsen due to the hot, dry weather. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says a bad crop year would mean reversing course on an ag economy that’s done very well in recent years.

Vilsack says they’re always concerned with the momentum slowing down after seeing agriculture, as well as ag machinery and ag manufacturing doing so well. Vilsack says the country continues to export at a very rapid rate, so the world wants what we produce.

He says one out of 12 jobs in the economy is connected to agriculture and he wants to keep that going. Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says if farmers didn’t buy crop insurance, they won’t be able to rely on a disaster program this year.

He says the reality is, there’s no disaster programs and he hopes farmers have crop insurance. Vilsack says the crop insurance won’t cover everything, but at least it will be something. He says there will be low-interest loans through the USDA, but their capacity to help is very limited absent a “food, farm and jobs” bill being passed in Congress.

This week’s U.S.D.A. crop report showed only 46% of Iowa’s corn crop rated as good to excellent, a drop from 62% last week. The soybean crop is also suffering, falling from 59 to 48% good to excellent.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City