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July 19, 2012 10:15 PM

Drought Could Hit Main Street

Canton, SD

It's not just farm families worried about KELOLAND's growing drought. What happens in the fields goes beyond the families who farm them. It only takes a trip to Main Street to find out who else is worried. 

“The one farmer just told me, ‘To you it's corn withering out in the fields. To me it's money drying up in the fields,’” Lucky’s Grill owner Doug Dean said.

But the money is normally spent at businesses like Dean’s. And like so many KELOLAND communities, Canton depends on farm dollars. As the fields dry up, Dean is worried business at could follow.

“It seems like the topic of conversation, even with my food vendors coming in,” Dean said.

“When you don't have it to spend, you don't spend it,” retired Canton farmer Orval Larson said. “And the farmer is a big spender if he's got the money to spend.”

Larson has seen ups and downs in a lifetime of farming. The bumper corn crops have boosted Canton’s economy. Extra bushels have been so common in recent years they've almost became the norm. Weeks of heat and very little rain are threatening to stop the streak.

“It's going to take a toll on everybody,” Larson said. “I don't care who it is, it's going to make a difference.”

“If it doesn't rain, then pretty much count on it, that it's going to go up,” Dean said.

He knows beef prices will rise, along with everything else. That means higher menu prices too and if he's lucky customers will still stop in to eat.

So just like everyone else watching their fields, Dean is also hoping for some luck to fall from the sky.

“Just pray.” Dean said. “Pray that it comes and hope it works out.”

Dean says his food suppliers are predicting price rises over the next six to nine months.

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