Drought Destroys Corn Crop

U.S. Department of Agriculture reports dire news for farmers for month of July.
3:00 | 08/10/12

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Transcript for Drought Destroys Corn Crop
The government tonight saying that this historic drought is now taking a bigger toll on american farms than we first thought. And that every american family could seen end up paying the price at the grocery store. How bad is it? This is a farm in nebraska, late last summer, the stalks a healthy green and reaching about eight feet high. This evening, this is how a corn field in that same town looks today. Everything burned from the sun and withered. So, tonight here, we're going to go back out on the farm to hear the faces of this drought. Abc's meteorologist ginger zee leading us off. Reporter: A staggering one-sixth of the u.S. Corn crop has been lost in just the last month and the ultimate cost to the u.S. Economy could run as high as $80 billion. Farmers like john klefner of manhattan, illinois, whose plight "world news" is following, has been sounding the alarm for weeks. This is what a healthy ear of corn looks like but unfortunately this year I have produced a lot of ears that look like this. Reporter: Images like those helped push corn prices to record highs on futures markets today. Which means almost everything will cost you more in the grocery store. One estimate, an additional $300 to feed a family of four over the next year. That's 75 bucks for every man, woman and child. It's not just food. It's fuel. Bio fuels. By law, about 40% of u.S. Feed corn is used to make ethanol. Making shortages worse. And look at this. The drought, since june, has grown significantly. And it's only getting worse. Even taking the mighty out of the mighty mississippi. Because of low water levels, barges that transport food either can't operate or have to lightning their loads. Normally, these corn plants would be about eight or ten feet tall. I'd be standing in the shadehe sun wouldn't be beating down on my head. Reporter: Not far away in creston, illinois. A majority of it is corn, soybean meal. Reporter: Jan huaber is already paying extra to find feed for his pigs. Some of his neighbors have given up. We've got farms already going into lick by decision. We're going to end up with food supplies nationwide that are going to be short. Reporter: And shortages are triggering fears of a worldwide food crisis. Ginger with us now on the desk. Any relief this weekend? Reporter: I have a picture that we really haven't seen in quite some time. Some relief. The next two weeks, the climate prediction center puts this above average rainfall possible for areas that really need it. In the heartland, all the way through indiana, illinois and into the southeast in georgia. We can hope tonight. The other major weather headline, the tropics churning. Reporter: We're at the peak of the season and it is responding here. Ernesto still dropping quite a bit of rain, over a foot already. Tropical depression number seven, it looks like it's going to peter out. And 30% chance off africa, that one will take its track. This is when we really start to get into the peak of the season when we have to watch. And we will. Ginger zee, thank you. We're going to turn in the meantime to another close call

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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