Dry land means less grass for cattle to eat – and that means ranchers are faced with some hard choices. Either they move livestock to greener pastures, buy feed to fatten them up, or sell cattle earlier than planned, when they won’t fetch as good a price. Matt Byrne is with the California Cattlemen’s Association. He says it’s hard to say what kind of losses ranchers will sustain, but it could hurt some substantially:
“There’s certainly a possibility that some people will say, you know, there’s enough of an issue this year that I’m going to have to liquidate my entire herd and I may never come back to the industry.”
Byrne says what makes this year unique is the widespread dry land. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows more than 80 percent of the state’s pastures and rangeland is in poor or very poor condition. Byrne says some counties have already received disaster declarations – making ranchers eligible for low-interest loans.