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DROUGHT SUMMIT: Conditions Critical

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Farmers came from across the state, some carrying crops they say are now nearly worthless.

Governor Terry Branstad told the group, "We are concerned these conditions are worsening every day that goes by."

In the last week the dry conditions have worsened significantly.  Two-thirds of the state is now in a drought.  Twelve percent is experiencing a severe drought.  Climatologists liken current conditions to those in 1983 and 1988, the date of the last major drought in Iowa. 

Harry Hillaker, the state climatologist says we probably won't see relief until August - at the earliest.

'It's very hard to get out of this situation.  As far as a change in the weather pattern this time of year, it's just very unlikely."

Grain farmers aren't the only ones affected.  As corn prices increase, it becomes harder for livestock producers to feed their herds.  Among those attending the conference, Bernie Holtkamp, who sells farm chemicals.

"Livestock producers are very worried about the hay quality, pastures are beginning to run out."

That means everyone will pay more for food.

"It'll cause liquidation," warned Andy Hora with Farm Bureau.  "You'll pay a lot more for a steak, if you can get it."

Food isn't the only concern.  Ground water levels continue to drop in most of the state.  The Raccoon and Des Moines rivers in central Iowa have been downgraded from slight to moderate drought conditions.

Tim Hall, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says this means communities that rely on ground water could soon see shortages.

"It's gotten to levels that are beginning to approach certainly seasonal lows if not historic lows in some parts of the state."