Gulf of Mexico "Dead Zone" will be larger this year, corn exports down, tariffs to blame, 5:32

Jun 11, 2019

Dead Zone, Gulf of Mexico

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President Donald Trump is in western and central Iowa and former Vice President Joe Biden has been campaigning in south-central and eastern Iowa today.

Trump will visit a Council Bluffs ethanol plant and highlight his administration’s rule change, allowing year-round sales of gas with a 15 percent ethanol blend. Biden, at his first stop in Ottumwa, accused Trump of using farmers as “pawns” in Trump’s “erratic” tariff war.

Scientists are predicting this summer’s “dead zone” in the northern Gulf of Mexico will be higher than usual.  It is between the sizes of Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The oxygen in the “dead zone” is depleted because of nitrogen and phosphorus running off fields in Midwest states and going down the Mississippi River.

Gene Turner with Louisiana State University is part of a team that puts together an annual forecast for the dead zone.

((0611turner   0:14)) What it continues to say every year is that we’re not making any progress on improving water quality in the Mississippi River which means all the states that are contributing to it also don’t have really any improvements in their water quality.

Turner and his team will collect data in late July. He says the dead zone could be smaller than predicted if there are tropical storms that month.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has lowered its estimate of this year's corn crop to the lowest in four years, saying wet weather has delayed planting and reduced acres planted and the expected per-acre yield.

The expected production was cut in a monthly report released Tuesday by 1.4 billion bushels to 13.7 billion 

The USDA report also says disputes with China and other nations have reduced corn exports for the current-year crop by 100 million bushels and soybean exports by 75 million bushels.