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Drought Hitting Farmers and Ranchers Hard

Drought Hitting Farmers and Ranchers Hard

Posted - Sep. 8, 2003 at 11:01 p.m.



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Samantha Hayes reportingFarmers and ranchers at the Utah State Fair, are telling a grim tale, of the effect the drought is having on their livelihood.

This fifth year of drought caused low production in field crops and selling off of live stock. The state estimates a drought-related 50 million dollar loss-to farmers and ranchers, this year alone.

Mark Ipsen cut his number of cows nearly in half, from 125 to 65.

MARK IPSEN/CATTLEMAN: "ITS TOUGH, ECONOMICALLY ITS REALLY HURTING US."

On his small ranch, that's difference of 45-50 thousand dollars a year. Imagine taking that pay-cut several years in a row.

MARK: "WE NEED AN EXTRAORDINARY WINTER..TWO WINTERS TO GET BACK."

The U.S. drought Monitor shows Utah in extreme drought conditions and a few exceptionally dry spots.

Larry Lewis, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food: "DURING AUGUST AND JULY UTAH WAS THE CENTER OF THE BULLSEYE OF THE DROUGHT IN THE UNITED STATES."

SAMANTHA HAYES: "A MAJOR EXPENSE FROM THE DROUGHT IS SIMPLY BUYING FEED FOR THE CATTLE, USED TO BE THERE WAS ENOUGH WATER FOR RANCHERS TO GROW THEIR OWN."

Bob Bennett/Cattleman: WE'LL BE BUYING HAY ANYWHERE BETWEEN 90-100 BUCKS A TON..AND WE'VE BEEN HAVING TO BUY HAY ANYWHERE FROM 150-300 TONS A YEAR FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS."

Utah's drought conditions are so severe, the state receives assistance from the USDA.

LARRY: "THEY GAVE US, RANCHERS, 16 MILLION POUNDS OF DRY MILK TO BE USED AS A FEED SUPPLEMENT TO LIVE STOCK RANCHERS."

To save more money in the long-run, ranchers and farmers are changing the way they use water through low-flow irrigation systems and more efficient land use.

MARK IPSEN/CATTLEMAN: "WHAT WE DID IS TOOK THE MARGINAL PRODUCING LAND AND JUST DIDN'T WATER IT AND TOOK THE HIGHER PRODUCING LAND AND WATERED IT HEAVY."

In these conditions, finding new inventions are a necessity for survival.

LARRY LEWIS: "THEY CONTINUE TO HOLD ON, CUT CORNERS, REINVENT THINGS, DO THINGS BETTER.."

Family farms are still the hardest hit when drought conditions persist. The State Agriculture Department says farms run by corporations make up only 5 percent.

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