With failing crops and a shortage of water, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are feeling the heat of one of the hottest summers on record.
“We are seeing a lot of people selling cattle and a lot of people are hanging on to them. It’s going both ways depending on what they are dealing with as far as their hay and water supply goes,” said Mike Carroll, owner of Vinita Farmer and Rancher Livestock Auction. “It’s been a diff cult season.”
According to local ranchers, this is the worst season they have seen in recent
“In 1954 or '55, this country burned,” said Ted Dixon, lifelong rancher in Craig County and the surrounding areas. “In 1980 it was really dry but not like this. What area farmers and ranchers are experiencing now is a loss of grass, fescue, hay and a shortage of water due to the lack of rain and signifi cant usage. A good example is the corn crops. Farmers are having to plow their corn under or have it chopped for feed
because the cobs never matured on the stock. They just didn’t fi ll this year.
“These farmers might have 500 acres of corn to harvest and are being forced to use crop insurance to reimburse for a portion of the expenses but it is still a huge loss of profit. Insurance doesn’t cover near what they put into it, which is somewhere around $500 an acre. The serious part of this drought is upon us and if we don’t get some rain we’ll lose a lot more.”
The local sale barn is seeing both sides of the situation. “It is just dependent on where they are at as far as hay and grass and water supply goes. Some farmers are selling off cattle because they are completely dry or close to it and others are hanging on to what they can to feed off of the grass and water they might have left. They are the lucky people,” said Carroll. Transporting cattle in this type of heat is no easy task either, according to Carroll.“Ranchers are having to leave very early in the morning, earlier than usual just to get the cattle in to town safely. The heat is a big issue of concern when it comes to transport,” he said. “The heat is hard on them.
With the condition of the fescue, cattle that normally shed haven’t done that this year and the longhair is also an issue of concern. The heat affects them a lot more than normal.” With no end in sight, Carroll says all that local and area farmers can do is hope for the best.
“There is no remedy for this except rainfall. We haven’t seen a spell like this since 1996, although cattle prices are holding up better this time than they did back then,” Carroll said. “Prices have cheapened up some but nothing like it is going to get if we, and a lot of other states don’t get some rain soon.”