Chicago Tribune: Food and the Drought

July 30, 2012

Drought is never good for corn. Drought in July is as bad as it gets.

The Midwest corn crop pollinates in the first weeks of July. No rain means little or no pollination. As a result, fewer kernels form on each ear of corn. Even if the rain were to start falling again — and much more is needed than the storms and showers that reached Illinois recently — yields will be sharply reduced. A big part of the crop already is lost.

The looming shortage has sent prices for corn as well as soybeans to all-time highs at the Chicago Board of Trade. The farm belt is facing its worst disaster since the devastating drought of 1988.

What to do? Pray for rain, of course. But there is one important step that should be taken soon: TheU.S. Environmental Protection Agencyneeds to waive its requirement for using corn-brewed ethanol in U.S. motor fuels.