Cattle farmers face "double-whammy" with drought, low market prices

Cattle farmers face "double-whammy" with drought, low market prices

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama cattle farmers all across the state have been dealing with falling market prices. Now with the drought that has hit the state, cattle farmers are searching for any kind of relief.

The Mid-State Stockyard Report, published by the Alabama Cattlemen's Association, showed that calf sales in October 2016 were 60 percent lower than they were in October 2015.

Dr. Billy Powell, Executive Vice President of the association, said this market drop, combined with the statewide drought, has created an emergency situation for Alabama cattle farmers.

"A calf that's your source of income, instead of bringing in $1,200, is bringing in $600 or $500," Dr. Powell said.

The association has 11,100 members and a chapter in all of Alabama's 67 counties. Dr. Powell said cattle farmers in the north and northeastern parts of the state have been hit the hardest because those regions have been experiencing a drought since July. As more days go by without rain, he said the issue is moving further south and further west.

"We are out of water," Dr. Powell said. "You can't keep livestock around long when you're out of water."

Powell said creeks and streams throughout the state that haven't gone dry in decades are dried up, so farmers are turning to alternative water sources from rural and city water sources.

He also said farmers are bringing hay from Kentucky, but are getting stopped on the roadways because of their load size. He said the group has been meeting with the governor's office and other groups to find temporary solutions, but that the only real solution is rain.

The Alabama Cattlemen's Association will be holding a board meeting on Thursday, where nearly 80 farmers from around the state will come together. Dr. Powell said representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be there, as well as other groups, so a portion of the meeting will be used to discuss ways for farmers to sustain their business through the continued dryness and low prices.

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