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SPOTLIGHT

1. AGRICULTURE

Farmers in the Southern Plains brace for multi-year drought

David Cleavinger distinctly remembers looking out to his cornfields on a recent 111-degree summer day in Wildorado, Texas. Winds were whipping the stalks at 40 mph, and despite the puddles of water settling in the irrigated corn rows, he knew his crop would barely stand a chance this season. Cleavinger, who farms about 3,500 acres with his son in the Panhandle town, has been growing corn, wheat and cotton and raising cattle for 33 years. None compares to this year, when the combination of brutal heat, relentless winds and no rain created one of the most difficult years in history for Texas agriculture.

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