ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Extreme summer heat and a serious lack of rain has drought conditions getting even worse across the country. Back in July every single county in Missouri was declared a disaster area by the US Department of Agriculture. Now word comes that more than 200 additional counties nationwide are being added to that list across a dozen states. That means that more than 1/2 of all US counties are now considered agricultural disasters.
Here in St. Louis, the month of July was not only the hottest July on record, it was also the hottest single month ever recorded in the Gateway City. It was also the 8th driest and experienced more 105+ degree days than any other month in history.
All of this amounts to a worsening of drought conditions here at home and across the country. Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans to open up nearly 4 million acres of conservation land for ranchers to help offset critical shortages of hay and deteriorating pasturelands for cattle.
The drought woes have a trickle-down effect at the pump. Gas prices have risen more in the last month than any other month in the past 10 years. That`s up 5 percent on a national basis. The increase is due in part to the soaring price of ethanol which is made from corn. As corn prices jump, so does the cost of its bi-products. You can bet the pain in the wallet will extend beyond the pump in other forms later this year.