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Drought killing crops, lowering Mississippi

Minnesota farm fields might appear OK when you are speeding by them on the road, but look closer: the drought is taking its toll. Farmer Jim Willers plucked a soybean plant out of one of his fields south of Jasper and pointed to dried buds where green bean pods should be hanging. “It’s a pretty field, but there are no beans in it," he told the Worthington Daily Globe.
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Farmer Jim Willers is one of many farmers in southwest Minnesota — and across the Midwest — holding out whatever hope is left that Mother Nature will bring some much needed rain to save his thirsty crops, the Worthington Daily Globe reports. Drought has not been this bad since 1988, he said. In one of his fields, he offered a guess that he’ll get about one-third of a crop.

The ongoing drought, combined with global economic turmoil, is hurting business in nine Midwest and Plains states and boosting worries about the possibility of another recession, according to a monthly report released Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

The region's overall economic index for July plunged below growth neutral for the first time since 2008. The index hit 48.7, compared with 57.2 in June, the AP says.

The lack of rain is dropping Mississippi River levels, too, and barge shippers are worried. The drought is threatening to force barge lines to lighten cargos in Minnesota if it doesn't rain more soon, the Star Tribune reports.

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