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Jed Boal reportingBrent Tanner/Utah Cattlemen's Association: AS RANCHERS, IT PUTS US INTO A PREDICAMENT WHERE WE NEED TO DO UNUSUAL THINGS TO MANAGE IN OUR RANCHING OPERATIONS."
The Utah livestock industry braces for another long summer of debt, drought, and desperation.
For Utah ranchers, last summer was the worst any could remember. Monday, livestock industry representatives say this year could be just as bad, and possibly worse.
Today's threatening skies are encouraging for everyone from water managers to firefighters, .and home gardeners to ranchers. The reality for most Utah ranchers is that their livestock have been devastated, and it will take years to recover.
Last year, drought conditions forced many ranchers out of business. It also took a 250 million dollar bite out of the industry.
In the next two weeks, hundreds of Utah ranchers will apply for non-fat dry milk, distributed as part of a nine-state U-S Department of Agriculture drought assistance program. Ranchers will mix the high-protein milk into feed, and enable them to extend the life of that feed.
Utah's allotment of nearly nine million tons of milk will arrive early next month. Ranchers soon will receive a letter in the mail telling them how to apply.
Rancher Brent Tanner says, it couldn't have come at a more critical time.
Brent Tanner/Utah Cattlemen's Association: "THE WATER RESOURCES JUST ARE NOT THERE FOR GROWING FORAGE AND GROWING THE CROPS, SO WE'RE GOING TO BE IN A SITUATION AS BAD AS LAST YEAR, IF NOT WORSE."
Spring rain could give ranchers a real lift, but in all likelihood, their herds will suffer again this summer. Reservoirs across the state simply won't have the water they need once the minimal snowpack melts in the mountains.