WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Drought Still Causing Problems for Farmers

Nov 12, 2012

The drought has been less noticeable this fall, but cattle farmers are still feeling its effects.

ISU Extension Agriculturist Darbee Wellman

The basic problem is that no matter what, cows have to eat. But there is less corn to go around because of the drought, which has driven up feed prices.

Iowa State University Extension’s Darbee Wellman said farmers might need to reduce the size of their herds and look to alternative feeds such as corn stalks. She said some farmers in the region graze their cattle on grass but they will affected too because the drought left less grass for their herds.

Wellman said up to now, the cattle being sold were fed partially on feed that was grown before the drought and therefore cheaper. As stocks of that feed dwindle farmers will have to begin selling off more cattle - and as that happens, shoppers will take notice.

“As those number decrease with the animals that are going to the feed lot and that are being fed out and that are making it to the market weight, you’re going to notice prices then," Wellman said. "So I would say spring and into summer you’re going notice some of those prices creeping up.”

Wellman said the drought’s effects on farmers, and therefore on consumers, will depend on how long it lasts.

ISU Extension is holding workshops across Iowa to help cattle farmers deal with the drought, including one in Houghton on November 27th.