Continued drought impacting livestock producers, too - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Continued drought impacting livestock producers, too


The entire state of Iowa is now in severe to extreme drought.  This summer's heat and lack of rainfall has been taking a toll on corn crops for weeks.  And now that's putting real concern on the feed supply for livestock.

Corn is trading near eight bucks a bushel these days.  And the longer the severe dry spell continues, the higher prices will continue to spike, as concern mounts that there might be little corn to cut this fall.

With low supply, livestock farmers are feeling the pinch of high feed costs--which ultimately will squeeze your bottom line on your grocery bill.

Makenzie Shover is showing cattle at the Bremer County Fair in Waverly, which she's done for three years now.  Only a few minutes of the week-long fair are actually spent showing the animals in the arena.  The rest of the time is spent here in the barn, caring for the cattle.

"They have to have food and water at all times," Shover said.

But there's growing concern the food she's feeding these guys is going to be in short supply soon.  The drought is causing slim hay harvests.

"We've made three cuttings of hay, but if we don't get any rain, our fourth cutting will not be there.  It's just drying up and there won't be any more feed," said Chris Knapp, farmer and Bremer Co. Fair Manager.

The lackluster corn crop is pushing feed grain prices sky-high, too, putting a pinch on livestock producers.

"From a swine producer's standpoint, if you look at how much grain goes into swine, in the poultry, and the beef cattle, that's the big effect.  It costs more to produce it, and there are some guys that are really challenged on it," said Ron Lenth, Bremer Co. Iowa State Extension.

That's not the only problem the drought creates for livestock.  Animals tend to eat less in hot, dry weather, making them less hearty once they're taken to market.  That double whammy means a significant trickle down effect for your grocery bill.

"At this point, we've not seen major price increases whatsoever.  But I do believe down the road, especially meat prices are going to increase," said Julie Kiefer, with the Waterloo Public Market Co-Op.

And even though fall harvest is just around the corner, livestock and crop farmers agree--it's never too late for a little rain to help make the best of this bad, dry situation.

Right now, corn produce prices haven't shot up too much, often averaging five dollars for a dozen ears.  But grocers say in years past when there's been ample supply of corn, the price will drop to around two dollars.  And that's certainly not the case this year.

Iowa's ag secretary Bill Northey will visit the Bremer County Fair in Waverly Wednesday, and it's expected the drought will be a hot topic.  Some federal assistance is already being offered to farmers impacted by this dry spell.


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