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A Country Caught in Historic Drought — PICTURES A Country Caught in Historic Drought — PICTURES

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A Country Caught in Historic Drought — PICTURES

July 19, 2012

The country is currently in the midst of the worst drought in more than 50 years, and its effects are rippling across the heartland and throughout the agricultural economy. Seventy percent of the Midwest is now in a state of drought, which doesn't bode well for corn and cattle production.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday said that “we would anticipate in the short term, food prices for beef, poultry, and pork may go down a bit.... But over time they will rise,” as will the price of processed foods.

Collected here are images of the drought's impact on the nation's midsection.

Four rows of corn left for insurance adjusters to examine are all that remain of a 40-acre cornfield in Geff, Ill. that was mowed down Monday, July 16, 2012. Over ten days of triple digit temperatures with little rain in the past two months is forcing many farmers to call 2012 a total loss(AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Stalled corn is displayed on a farm in Geff, Ill. 53-year-old farmer David White says that he has never experienced such extreme drought. Little rain and long-lasting heat has dried up his acres, forcing him to declare this year a "total loss."(AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Cattle wait in pens before an auction sale in Conway, Ark. Many ranchers are selling their livestock during drought conditions rather than pay high prices for hay. The nation's most extensive drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)


A dead fish lies in Mitchell Lake in the Ballard Wildlife Management Area near Barlow, Ky., as lack of rain and excessive heat deplete oxygen from the water.(AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)

The exposed bottom of the Mississippi River near St. Louis is baked and cracked by extreme heat and lack of rain. The worst drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.(AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Drought conditions across the country as of July 17. (US Drought Monitor)


Rich Byars of Geff, Ill., and his brother Rodney had to cut down 40 acres of corn, which had failed to pollinate due to high temperatures and little rain, leaving only four rows standing for the insurance adjuster to inspect.(AP Photo/Robert Ray)

A dry field of corn is seen near Fremont, Neb., Monday, July 16, 2012. The drought gripping the United States is the widest since 1956, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

This satelite image of the heartland shows how severe this year's drought has been on crops and vegetation. Using 2002 data as a baseline, it marks what areas of the county now have ailing plant life Browner areas represent areas that show less vegetation than usual. Greener areas show more. White areas are average.(NASA)


Corn stalks struggling from lack of rain and a heat wave covering most of the country lie flat on the ground Monday, July 16, 2012 in Farmingdale, Ill. The nation's widest drought in decades is spreading. More than half of the continental U.S. is now in some stage of drought, and most of the rest is abnormally dry. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

This map shows the more than 1,000 counties that have been declared federal disaster areas, representing almost a third of all the counties in the U.S. and making it the largest disaster area ever declared. (Via the Atlantic Wire)(USDA)

The gate is closed on a boat ramp leading to a dry cove at Morse Reservoir in Noblesville, Ind., Monday, July 16, 2012. The reservoir is down nearly 6 feet from normal levels and being lowered 1 foot every five days to provide water for Indianapolis.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


A cornfield is shrouded in mist at sunrise in rural Springfield, Neb. The drought gripping the United States is the most extensive since 1956.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

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