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Drought causes Utah farmers, ranchers to struggle watering crops and feeding livestock

Jul 6, 2021, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:42 am
(Photo: Deseret News, 2016)...
(Photo: Deseret News, 2016)
(Photo: Deseret News, 2016)

SPANISH FORK — Utah farmers and ranchers are struggling to water their crops and feed their livestock with the ongoing drought conditions in the state.  

Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson said it best in an interview with CBS News last month. 

“When agriculture’s gone, then our ability to produce food is gone,” Gibson told reporter Jonathan Vigliotti. “That’s what scares me the most about this whole situation.”

Rex Larsen raises beef cattle near Spanish Fork, as well as crops to feed them. A farmer of more than four decades, he says he’s never seen a drought this bad in his lifetime. 

“It’s uncharted territory for us,” said Larsen. “My father and grandfather, I’m sure during the 1930s and the Dust Bowl, experienced things like this.” 

He says the drought is affecting everything. His crops, his livestock, even the water is low for his home.

“We don’t have culinary water, we have artesian wells,” Larsen explained. “And many of them have dried up this year.”

The Larsen family is doing all they can to harvest food for his cattle once they return from his range. That is presenting a problem of its own with very little hay on his property this year.

Larsen says he recently called a friend who’s a hay broker for an extra load this summer. 

“He said ‘I can’t find it. I can’t find any hay.’,” Larsen said. “This drought is so widespread, it’s affecting everyone.” 

The companies which supply water to Larsen and others around Spanish Fork are running low, Larsen said. One company told him they would be dry by the end of the month. 

Larsen has already sold more than 30% of his herd because he didn’t have enough food and water for all of them. When more than half of his income is based on having healthy cattle every year, he’s doing everything he can to stay positive.

“Just remind everybody to keep praying for rain,” Larsen requested. “That’s what we’re doing and I hope everyone will join with us.” 

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Drought causes Utah farmers, ranchers to struggle watering crops and feeding livestock