UTAH DROUGHT

Farmers confront grim choices in midst of severe drought

Aug 19, 2022, 1:42 PM | Updated: 1:43 pm
farmers drought The dried Antelope Island marina at the Great Salt Lake is pictured....
The Antelope Island marina is dried up as the Great Salt Lake experiences record low water levels on Friday, July 22, 2022. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Farmers and ranchers across the west are getting rid of cattle they can not afford to feed and pulling up crops they cannot harvest because of the ongoing drought.

A new survey reveals the reality of being a farmer right now. The American Farm Bureau Federation asked farmers in 15 states for their responses to the drought. Many said they’re being forced to fallow fields (leave uncultivated) and destroy orchards in addition to selling off their cattle herds.

Average crop yields are expected to be down by more than one-third, with farmers in Texas especially hard-hit. Texas farmers saw a reduction in their crop yields by 68%, the survey found.

In Utah, less access to water due to the drought is making hay and other crops much harder to grow. Without hay and with nothing to feed cattle, herds must be much smaller and sent to slaughter much earlier.

Bailee Woolstenhulme with the Utah Department of Agriculture said reducing herd sizes isn’t good for meat production or the production of certain crops.

“Those effects could be seen later down in the line,” she said. “We could just see a shorter supply or a lesser supply of beef in our stores because of that.”

“Though, the way the food supply chain works, it could be a little while before we see those effects.”

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