Kern County ranchers don't have enough water and feed for cattle

GLENNVILLE, Calif. - This summer is one of the driest starts to a year on record in most of Kern County and the dry conditions are forcing ranchers to sell their cattle early.

"This year in drought we're actually seeing not just a lack of water, but a lack of feed in total and the years hitting back to back have really hit us hard. There's just no water for cattle,” said Jack Lavers, President of the Kern County Cattlemen’s Association.

Ranchers like Lavers depend on Mother Nature to get them through the summer, but this year Mother Nature hasn’t been very helpful. In fact, a report from the National Weather Service shows Kern County has experienced back to back winters with below average rainfall.

“We're looking at having to find new springs, fix springs up that have started to dry, but there's not a lot you can when springs dries up. Guys are drilling like crazy all over the country right now, but it's not guaranteed you're going to hit water,” said Lavers.

No water means dry grass and Lavers said the price of hay is also going up.

"So they're looking for other commodities they can feed like carrots, potatoes, onions garlic whatever you can find they're going to try and feed them, but most of us can't afford that financial hit so we're selling the cattle ahead of time and making it so our grass stretches out farther."

While the ranchers are being hit the hardest, Richard Diamond, General Manager with the North Kern Water Storage District, told 23ABC farmers in the valley are also feeling the effects of the drought.

“It would be good if the public was aware that the farming community has been challenged by the water situation. We're always hoping for better rain and snow this year to make things a little easier on everybody, but the impact is probably county wide because of the importance of agriculture to the economy."

Consumers won’t be hit with higher beef prices though because prices are already at record highs due to a cattle shortage in the United States.

 

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