It's dry and hot in the Maritimes but still nowhere near the drought conditions through central North America, some of the most important and productive farmland in the continent. The long-term future of this "prairie agriculture" could be very different than what's going on now. Aquifers that feed irrigation systems have been running down for years, and drought this summer will just add to the decline. There's no doubt that corn and soybean harvests will be the lower, and news stories are already warning consumers that food prices will be going up. What's not being discussed very much is the role speculators are playing in driving up prices. These are essentially people with huge pools of money not really interested in food, but in the opportunity to bet on commodity prices continuing to go up. There was a good discussion on all of this Monday on CBC Radio's the Current.