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Drought continues to plague crops nationwide

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 7:15 AM CDT
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - It’s dry around the country. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of the west and southwest as well as the northern plains are in extreme to exceptional drought. California is one of the states hardest hit by drought as farmers are reporting they’re plowing up fields of vegetables and taking out nut trees as well since their reservoirs are at less than half of their normal water capacity because of a lack of runoff following a winter of very poor snow packs in the mountains. In cattle country from North Dakota to Texas, the spring slaughter is up over past years because pastures aren’t greening up and the high cost of grain is also forcing farmers to liquidate some herds. Economists say the bottom line is higher prices at the grocery store as the year goes forward.

Cattlemens’ groups and general farm organizations from across the country met earlier this week in Phoenix to talk about the challenges in marketing finished cattle. They want a system put in place that will give them a more financially sustainable situation when they sell those cattle. The discussed topics they see as the most challenging to their future—concentration in the meat packing industry, price transparency, oversight of packing plants, better enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and force packers to buy more cattle on the open market. The cattlemen also want the Department of Justice and the USDA to get more involved in the current packing plant situation across the country.

A popular conservation program is ending. In 2014 the National Corn Growers Association started the Soil Health Partnership to help farmers better understand soil health, conservation, water quality and carbon sequestration. But the program has become a victim of its own success as it grew in just 7 years to over 200 farmers in 16 states with on farm demonstration plots. Now the program can’t sustain enough funding to keep going so the Corn Growers Board has voted to end the program.

The push is on to sign up volunteers to help at this year’s Farm Technology Days show in Eau Claire County this July 20th, 21st and 22nd. Huntsinger Farms will host the show which is the largest volunteer run outdoor farm show in the country. Volunteers don’t have to be from a farm or have a farm background as there are plenty of positions to fill. To volunteer go to wifartechdays.org/volunteers.

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