Farmers Feeling Effects of Drought

By: Mike Gurspan
By: Mike Gurspan

The on-going drought across Florida and Alabama is forcing some beef producers to sell their cattle early.

At Tuesday's annual Northwest Florida Beef Field Day in Jackson County, the dry conditions weren't far from farmer's minds.

The Northwest Florida Cattle Research Center outside of Greenwood is one of the most advanced facilities' in the country.

Scientists constantly look at improving feed, but with an on-going drought and grazing land drying up, area ranchers are looking to cut costs and send their livestock to market.

Jackson County Livestock Agent Doug Mayo said, "Some ranchers had to sell. We can fertilize and kill bugs but without water nothing grows. It has been challenging to say the least."

Longtime Jackson County Public Defender, Herman Laramore, owns more than 1000 head of cattle. He says fellow ranchers are looking at ways of cutting costs and maintaining their herds. "From a pasture stand-point, and an economic view it has been terrible. We’ve had dry spells before, but nothing ever like this."

If cattle are sold to early it will have an effect, but here in the southeast, I don't believe the quantity will be as much to affect the dollar cost at the supermarket,” Laramore adds.

Extension Economist Tim Hewitt says, "With the dry weather, we have a lot to lose. I’m not sure if it'll have a very big affect on beef prices nationwide."

Hay supplies are also dwindling across the tri-states' region as the drought runs unabated.

Tuesday’s Beef Research Field Day in Jackson County drew several dozen cattle producers from across the Panhandle, Wiregrass and Southwest Georgia.

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