“I’ve never seen a drought like this:” Minnesota farmers struggle in dry conditions
Hulst and his family have been raising cattle since the 1960s. Over time, Hulst has said he has withstood many of Mother Nature’s harsh conditions, but never a drought that dried up their entire pond like this.
“Normally I would be standing in about four to five feet of water,” Knutson said. “Now nothing.”
Lack of water has resulted in a lack of food like hay, forcing farmers to pay more for hay or find alternatives to feed their livestock.
Evan Knutson, a cattle nutritionist, explained what some of these alternatives might be.
“There’s going to be a lot of straw and corn stalks fed to beef cows and then extra protein and energy alongside that,” Knutson said.
Knutson is worried about the impact the drought could have on farmers’ finances, as more and more of them have to sell their livestock early for less because they cannot support themselves. He also wonders about the impact drought could have on consumers.
“In America’s breadbasket, there’s going to be a food shortage, you’re going to see food prices go up and it could get sad,” Knutson said. “It could be difficult for families who are struggling to pay the bills and feed themselves properly anyway. “
With limited funds for state and federal aid, Hulst and Knutson pray that Mother Nature’s conditions will change.
“There were tough times in 2019 and we finally got these checks last month in 2021. So if the money was to solve all the problems, it will have to come a lot faster and the money can’t buy money. hay that doesn’t really exist, our only hope is to just pray for the rain, ”Hulst said.
Roseau County is one of ten counties where farmers are eligible for emergency loans under a disaster declaration issued by the US Department of Agriculture on Tuesday. Loans can be used to replace equipment or livestock, reorganize a farm, or refinance certain debts.
The counties in Minnesota where farmers are now eligible to apply for emergency loans are Beltrami, Clearwater, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau. Farmers from four counties in North Dakota are also eligible: Grand Forks, Pembina, Traill, and Walsh.