Extreme drought conditions expand in four states

Intense heat and very little rain have led to one of the worst droughts in decades, and a new report on drought conditions out Thursday shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are affected.

There's no sign of relief for parched farmland.

The already arid Midwest and Great Plains are getting worse.

Extreme drought now consumes more than 80-percent of Kansas and Nebraska, and more than 90-percent of Missouri, a nearly 24-percent jump from last week.

What little water exists offers no refuge.

As lake temperatures rise fish are dying by the thousands.

Across the Midwest, farmers are plowing over corn fields, waving the white flag to Mother Nature's brutal summer attack.

With crops gone corn prices continue to skyrocket, up by half since early June, and corn isn't the only struggling crop.

37 percent of soybean crops are rated very poor to poor.
66 percent of the nation's hay fields are in drought.
So is 73 percent of cattle grazing land.

Environmentalists say this could be the "new normal" in the United States.

"The science tells us that under a changing climate droughts will be more frequent and more intense," says Steve Fleichli of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

On Wednesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture labeled more than half of the nation's counties "Natural Disaster Areas" due to the drought.

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