Northern Great Plains falls into Dust Bowl conditions

Published: Monday August 28, 2006

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The New York Times is set to report on Tuesday that severe drought is sending much of the northern Great Plains into conditions that farmers and ranchers say are comparable to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, RAW STORY has leaned.

Ranchers are turning to desperate expedients. Withered sunflower plants, normally raised for seeds and oil, are being fed to livestock. Cattle are being hauled hundreds of miles to healtheir feedlots, despite soaring fuel costs. Water is being poured in to refill natural watering holes that have gone dry. The governor of South Dakota even issued a proclamation declaring a week to pray for rain.

Despite these efforts, many ranchers are being forced to sell their herds and get out of the business. At one livestock market, 37,000 cattle were sold this summer, compared with 7000 last year.

The hardest-hit states, Nebraska and the Dakotas, have been hit by several dry years, a winter with little snow, and now record heat. Recent rains in some areas have been described as merely "a drip in a bucket."

Even the Corn Palace of Mitchell, South Dakota, a tourist attraction normally wrapped in hundreds of thousands of ears of corn, had to announce that it would not redecorate this year due to a lack of corn.