Drought Hurts Agriculture in Northeast Counties

By  | 

From wildfires in California to flooding in West Virginia, weather has been unpredictable all over the country. The same applies to Wyoming. Some parts of the state have declared a state of emergency, while other parts seem to be doing fine.

“Crook and Weston Counties are primary disaster areas,” USDA State Executive Director Gregor Goertz said.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, those counties are suffering extreme drought. But other areas of the state aren't having problems with their agriculture.

“In the southeastern part of the state, the irrigated crops I've seen look real well,” Goertz added.

But things can change quickly, as UW Extension Area Educator for Agriculture Scott Cotton explained. “In a short period of time, we can go from good grass growth to drought—like we did last year—and to fire conditions.”

For farmers and ranchers experiencing drought, there is hope through an initiative called the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

“That helps producers where they had drought, and their grasses failed or reduced production,” Goertz explained, “and [they are] having to move their livestock somewhere else, or else buy additional feed to keep their livestock on the place. These are payments to help them do that.”

The Emergency Conservation Program can also help.

“Where irrigation structures have been washed out, we give them money to help replace those structures to deliver water back to their farm ground,” Goertz said.

Ranchers can get up to $125,000 through the Livestock Forage Disaster program, and $200,000 through the Emergency Conservation Program for one year.

Agriculture experts say the state's crops in other areas are flourishing.

“This year were doing pretty good. There's not a whole lot of issues right at the moment,” said Cotton.

To apply for one of these programs, ranchers should go to their local farm service agency office. Residents in counties living in declared federal disaster areas qualify for emergency loans to help restore crops they lose.