After bemoaning the effect of the current drought on his eating habits Tuesday night, Stephen Colbert turned to an Iowa State professor to explain the increasingly hot weather’s impact on local crops.
“I’ve just been riding my bike through a bunch of cornfields,” said agricultural economics professor Bruce Babcock. “The crop looks like it’s a disaster.”
Babcock said almost the entire corn crop will be affected by high temperatures – it’s been at least 95 degrees in his home state for the past two weeks, he noted – and a lack of rain in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
Earlier in the show, Colbert cited a report by the National Climatic Data Center that said this summer’s drought was on par with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which he said was like John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes Of Wrath, “only less dry and easier to get through.” The heat wave could lead to a rise in dairy prices, he said, which could mean less cheese on pizzas.
“It is one thing for global warming to make the sea levels rise,” he said. “But nobody told me it could make my cheese levels recede.”
The drought’s effect on corn crops, Babcock said, could spill over into other foods: since chickens and livestock are fed corn-heavy diets, an increase in corn prices would cause similar increases for beef, pork and eggs.
However, Babcock’s note that 90 percent of Iowa farmers had crop insurance caught Colbert’s attention.
“A federal insurance program?” Colbert scoffed. “That’s just Obamacare for our corn.”
Watch Colbert’s interview with Babcock, aired Tuesday night, below: