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Drought Weighs On Area Farmers, Ranchers

Aug. 16, 2011

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Marc Scott looks out over a chunk of his property, 500 acres in this location near Riesel, and sees plenty signs of the drought. There are cracks in the ground 8 inches deep, precious few blades of green grass, and horses already resting in the shade to escape the heat, even though it's barely 9:30 in the morning. Over west of McGregor, Kevin Huffman is busy operating his large farm near the Coryell County line. As he goes about the day-to-day business, he's constantly thinking long-term about different scenarios that could play out amidst the drought. He's got his employees, customers, and the future of the farm that his parents started on his mind.

Scott and Huffman are just two voices of many in the area looking towards the sky, thinking about the future, and fighting to keep up with the daily demands of agriculture--livestock that need fed, land that despearately needs water, and bills that come due whether the rain falls or not. And of course, the rain has not been falling--the total was just 6.53 statewide this year through June--the lowest amount in history. Gene Hall of the Texas Farm Bureau says all comparisons to the major historical droughts are accurate.

Hall points out that what makes this drought worse is the dearth of rain being spread across every season. Other recent droughts at least saw some seasons that weren't so bad. But when there was very little rain last winter, and almost none of the desperately-needed spring rains to speak of, Hall said farmers and ranchers knew to prepare for the worst. Marc Scott echoes Hall's sentiments. He's seen a snowball effect that has hampered his ability to grow the hay needed to feed his herd.

Marc is president of the McLennan County Farm Bureau. He raises mother cows and bales hay, which he sells to farmers throughout Texas. Tomorrow, we'll hear more about how what this drought means for him and the farmers he serves across the county. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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