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California cattle ranchers deal with drought

Historic Drought Cripples Ranches And Farms In American West

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A cow walks on a dried-up pond in a drought-ravaged pasture on August 22, 2012 near Eads, Colorado. The severe drought has dried up most of eastern Colorado's natural grassland, forcing many ranchers to sell off much of their livestock early to feedlots, which fatten up the cattle for slaughter.

Water shortages and a lack of rain in the state have affected so many industries in California, including farmers and ranchers who struggle to get enough water to crops and cattle and now find other necessary resources more scarce.

Julie Morris is the co-founder of Morris Grassfed Beef and joined us to share how her family's ranch has dealt with the drought so far.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On the type of cattle she raises:

Preferred angus and our cattle are certified grass fed by the American Grassfed Association, which means they eat only grass.

On reaction to Brown’s drought declaration:

I’m glad that he’s acknowledging the hardship this drought is causing for farmers and ranchers throughout the state. I think it is important to recognize that drought affects everyone, not just growers but people who eat and depend on water sheds.

On the effects on her business:

We have had to haul water to some of our drier pastures, which means we literally put water in tanks and put them in trailers and haul them up hills to fill troughs. We’re also looking into irrigated pasture outside of this area so we can ship our cattle to places where there is grass.

On the long-term ramifications of drought:

For our company in particular we won’t have product to sell next year. We depend on rain to finish our cattle, which we normally start harvesting in spring and begin distributing to customers throughout the summer and fall.

On a possible grass alternative:

We are considering an alfalfa supplement, which would need to be according to the standards of the Grassfed Association, which we are certified by.

On the emotional effects of the drought:

There’s a lot of sleepless nights and our friends joke that they’re all doing rain dances for us, which we all appreciate. Yes, Mother Nature is a fickle business partner.

On a possible rise in prices:

We try to keep it affordable for everybody but at this point we are not taking anything off the table. So we may indeed need to raise prices.


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