The latest map shows extreme drought conditions have spread since last week. It's so bad, some parts of the state are now considered "natural disaster areas."
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Minnesota's worsening drought could raise food prices

Could that drive up our food prices? WCCO’s Allen Henry visited a farm in Wright County to get a firsthand look and find out.

“[It’s] disappointing when you get in the combine and you think you’re going to have a decent harvest and those bushels just don’t add up,” said dairy farmer Dan Glessing.

But that’s been the reality many farmers have faced during this year’s harvest. For some, their second drought in a row, the costs still adding up.

“We don’t have to play the Powerball. We’ve got the Powerball here every spring,” said Glessing. “It is a substantial amount of money you put into this crop every acre and you are taking a gamble you will get a return at the end of the season.”

Farmers tell WCCO the impact of the drought can be seen in cornfields. Not only is it impacting the amount of yield this field can produce, but it’s turning the usually soft soil hard as rock.

“You know, they’ve always had to adapt to climate but it feels like, especially this year, it’s been one disaster after another,” said Whitney Place, State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The USDA has declared 18 counties in Minnesota to be natural disaster areas due to the drought, offering financial assistance to those farmers.

But the drought might already be hitting your wallet.

“These big events that happen can easily impact the food market, for sure,” said Place.

Even with rain in the forecast, farmers say that might not be enough to start next year on the right foot.

“Three-tenths isn’t going to do it. We need inches, but not all at once if that makes sense,” said Glessing. “You need to let that soil absorb each shot of rain.”

The USDA says it’s unclear exactly how much the drought is impacting food prices because there are several other factors influencing costs.

Things like lingering supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine, and fuel costs are also driving up prices.

Dairy farmers still reeling from floods have been given a helping hand, with the state and federal governments locking in funding for key projects to prepare for the next disaster.

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