Farmers Optimistic Drought's End Near

Paul Gutierrez

OMAHA (KPTM) - It starts with just a little moisture. Farmers across the Midwest are beaming with confidence that 2013 is the year the severe drought comes to an end.

For Plattsmouth's Roy Smith, every drop counts in his soybean and corn field. Last year's drought caused a corn shortage resulting in higher grain prices.

"We saw the price go up until about the first of September," said Smith.

It was the type of increase that powered a national debate about corn-based Ethanol and its required role in the fuel industry.

"When the drought hit and it became obvious that there was going to be fewer bushels of corn, why, that makes corn more expensive, which makes Ethanol less competitive."

A 2005 federal energy bill mandates about 40% of corn to be used in Ethanol production. As the drought gradually becomes less severe, some Nebraska farmers believe it's only a matter of time before Ethanol becomes more attractive to consumers.

"It's generally a little cheaper than regular gas," said Smith.

Leaders in the Ethanol industry agree as they spoke on behalf of the product Thursday in Downtown Omaha.

"Ethanol has been consistently priced under gasoline and has brought fuel prices down," said Sasha Forsen of Green Plains Renewable Energy.

It's the type of plunge drivers everywhere will keep their eyes peeled for as wet weather slowly chips away at the drought.