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Nationwide drought conditions could affect Arizona

PHOENIX — The dry, parched conditions centered in the Midwest are expanding and could have an effect on Arizona.

Now, described as the worst drought since 1956, the drought is expanding in the West, the Great Plains and the Midwest.

“Our economists are telling us that possibly because of the drought we are experiencing today, we might feel it in our pocketbooks at the grocery store,” said Julie Murphree with the Arizona Farm Bureau.

The Arizona Farm Bureau keeps track of food prices. They predict the cost of basic necessities such as bread and dairy will be impacted.

In an interesting twist, because farmers are trying to avoid the rising cost of grain, many are forced to reduce their herd size. Consumers could see a dip in beef prices.

If there is an upside for Arizona consumers, it’s that the full impact might not be felt until the last quarter of 2013, according to experts.

This week, the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. said that 55 percent of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought at the end of June.

Corn and soybean crops have been devastated in some areas. According to the USDA, nearly one-fourth of the country’s corn crop is in poor condition. Livestock farms are also struggling.