Destructive Drought Hurts Local Farmers And Ranchers

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It's been months since the Brazos Valley has had a decent rain. But for local rancher and A&M agriculture professor Jim Mazurkiewicz, the drought problem extends beyond the threat of grass fires.

"Some of the shallow ponds have already dried up some of my larger ponds are almost dry. I've been feeding hay constantly cause there's no forage, no grasses out the for us to feed," said Jim Mazurkiewicz, local rancher.

Mazurkiewicz says the problems caused by the drought don't end there, because of the lack of rain there's also a shortage of hay and its price has nearly doubled.

"What little is available in the area is not really as high quality as we've had in the past so I'm having to supplement that with the liquid protein," said Mazurkiewicz.

To buy the liquid protein from a feed store adds about 20 percent to Mazurkiewicz's operating costs.

But James Deatherage of Producers Cooperative in Bryan says, they are also having a hard time keeping up with the demand.

"We're having trouble keeping the warehouse full which is normally not a problem for us," said James Deatherage, general manager, Producers Cooperative.

But, Deatherage says his feed store is better off than others.

"Some folks that are in the same business that we are, they're telling me they're two weeks out on deliveries and they're rationing," said Deatherage.

Since the problem is statewide some local ranchers are having to use resources from other states just to stay in business.

"I talked to some people today about hay up in Wyoming and Nebraska, some hay in Colorado and different places where there's some surplus," said Mazurkiewicz.

Mazurkiewicz says it is too early to tell just how much the drought cost the entire agriculture industry in 2005. But one thing is for certain for the short term at least, the lack of rain will have an impact in 2006 too.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has set up a hot line for ranchers having a hard time finding hay for their livestock. The number is 877-429-1998.