Drought Affects Cattle Farmers and Cattle Industry

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Red Cloud, Neb. - Cattle farmers and ranchers met in Red Cloud, Nebraska Saturday at the South Central Cattlemen Association's seventh annual Bull Bonanza.

Farmers met with other producers to examine bulls for potential purchase, as well as discuss the tricks of the trade.

But the severe drought that has hit the area in recent years has made cattle farming difficult.

The drought has caused a decrease in beef production, causing farmers like David Walker from Quirk Land and Cattle Company to decrease their herds.

"A lot of guys decreased the numbers of their cow herds, so that the land could sustain the number of cow herds they had," Walker said.

Fortunately, not all farmers had to sell their cattle like Kim Siebert of S Diamond Angus.

"We were able to send all the cows to grass, but the heffers had to stay home in a dry lot and we had to feed them all summer," Siebert said.

However, that doesn't mean that Siebert would do it again. He says it was still just as demanding.

Since cattle prices have been high, though, some farmers have been able to turn a profit.

But what concerns older farmers these days is the lack of younger farmers.

"Producers are getting old and retiring, and they're selling off their cow herds," Walker said.

Siebert adds that the difficulty is due to the costs of cattle farming. For new, young farmers starting from scratch is expensive. Both farmers agree that new policies need to be made.

"We need an economic environment that is conducive for younger producers getting into this business as opposed to getting into another business," Walker said.