Stephen Foley: Drought gives farmers a bigger voice in Congress

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The Independent Online

US Outlook: Don't be surprised if the price of your morning cornflakes go up. A drought in the midwest here is getting so bad that barges taking grain down the Mississippi are having to lighten their usual loads. The river is so low that they are afraid of getting stuck on the bottom.

The harvest this year looks so bad that corn prices have soared by 50 per cent in six weeks, putting pressure on the price not just of breakfast cereals but of meat, too, since animal feed has also gone through the roof.

But try not to lose any sleep over American farmers. While you are struggling to fill your shopping baskets at a reasonable price, they enjoy very healthy, government-sponsored insurance for crop disasters.

And the drought has increased their lobbying power in Congress, too, just as politicians were finally close to eliminating the most egregious subsidies.