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July 15, 2012 10:00 PM

Farmer Compares Drought To His Worst Year

Bridgewater, SD

Sunday's hot weather is only worsening conditions on South Dakota farms with most of the state experiencing a moderate to severe drought.

Farmers are comparing these conditions to the ones they experienced during the late 80s and early 90s, which caused billions of dollars in crop losses across the Midwest.

"You have good years and you have bad years and this one is not going to be so good," Bridgewater farmer Phil Hofer said.

After avoiding it all summer, this is the first time Phil Hofer's dared to walk through his 1,900 acres. What he sees cements his greatest fear.

"These plants are trying and trying but they're giving up rapidly. We're coming to the end here on these plants," Hofer said.

In his 32nd year of farming, he's only experienced a drought like this once, back in 1991. It was the end of a multi-year drought costing farmers billions of dollars throughout the Midwest. Hofer is bracing to lose two-thirds of his expected yield. 

"If this plays out like it looks, food prices are going to go up. There is just no way around it. Because with that limited supply of corn, something is going to have to give," Hofer said.

The crops are in survival mode and the drought is stunting their growth. Most plants are more than a foot short than normal for this time of year.

Hofer says the only thing different this year compared to 1991 is the risk management tools like crop insurance. Hofer says that safety net does give him some comfort.

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