More than half of the continental U.S. is experiencing “moderate to extreme drought,” according to the National Climactic Data Center. Drought conditions not seen since 1956, mean bad news for the nation’s agricultural sector and even worse news for the struggling economy. The U.S. Agriculture Department has designated more than 1,000 counties across 26 states as natural disaster areas, which means farmers in those areas can apply for low-interest emergency loans from the USDA. Jeff Masters from Weatherunderground.com says the cost associated with such a drought is certain to be many billions of dollars and could be one of the top 10 most expensive weather-related disasters in U.S. history.

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