A new report suggests that while recent rains stabilized the devastating drought gripping Iowa and other key farming states, the dry conditions intensified in Nebraska and Kansas.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows the overall expanse of land across the contiguous U.S. states weathering some form of drought dropped less than 1 percent to 61.8 percent as of Tuesday.
In Iowa, the nation's leader in corn production, the amount of land mired in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst classifications, dropped 7 percentage points to 62.05 percent over the past week.
But the amount of Nebraska in exceptional drought spiked 19 percentage points to 22.5 percent while that number in Kansas rose from 38.6 percent last week to 63.3 percent now.
An economic index for 10 Midwest and Western states has dropped again and an economist says the drought is "dampening economic activity across the region."
The Rural Mainstreet Index dropped further into negative territory this month, hitting 47.1, compared with 47.9 in July and 56.7 in June. The index is compiled after a survey of rural bankers in the states of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It focuses on communities with 1,300 residents, on average.
Survey organizers say any score below 50 on the index, which ranges from 1 to 100, suggests economic contraction in the months ahead.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the drought "is dampening economic activity across the region" and that companies with farm ties are experiencing problems.