Tough winter ahead for Missouri farmers and ranchers

Effects from drought expected to continue
Effects of the drought will continue into the winter months
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 6:41 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - “It’s going to be a tough winter for a lot of us.” That was from Missouri Governor Mike Parson as he addressed farmers and ranchers at the recent Annual Missouri Farm Bureau Meeting.

The state of Missouri has been dealing with various stages of drought since the middle of June with the latest Drought Monitor showing 81% of the state in some stage of drought. Kelly McGowan, a Horticulture Specialist at the MU Extension in Greene County, says farmers are still seeing impacts from the drought.

“The main thing that we’re seeing is forages and hay for our area cattle farmers,” says McGowan. “Typically, at this time of the year, a lot of our pastures... the fescue would be a lot taller. We would have more grazing potential. With the drought, we’re just not seeing that growth that we normally would have at this time of the year.”

With that in mind, McGowan says farmers and ranchers are faced with at least two options.

“With the drought, they just don’t have the stockpile they would normally have,” states McGowan. “So, they might end up having to purchase hay this year. Supplies are going to be low, and prices are going to be high. So, that certainly is a concern.”

As for option number two?

“We have had local farmers sell off some of their cattle, McGowan says. “That’s just so they’ll have less to feed with these increased feeding prices. Because of the decrease in inventory, we could see an increase in the price and demand of cattle and even beef going into next year.”

Thanks to Governor Parson’s extension of the drought alert until March 1, 2023, farmers can still take advantage of a number of resources. MoDOT streamlined hay movement for hay haulers by waiving the blanker permit fee of $64 and the single trip fee of $15.

Plus, hay haulers in Missouri can haul loads of up to 12 feet and 6 inches in width for blankets and up to 14 feet in width for single-trip permits. That information and other resources provided by the Missouri Department of Resources can be found here.

In addition, the University of Missouri Extension will feature any meetings and events to assist farmers and ranchers on their events page. McGowan also encourages farmers and ranchers to reach out to the Extension.

“If our farmers have questions about winter feeding, tips to make their feed last longer, classes on incorporating warm-season forages, or just anything to do with winter feeding or cattle care, certainly reach out to your local University of Missouri Extension office, and we can help,” McGowan says.

As for what consumers can do to help farmers and ranchers out, McGowan’s answer stays pretty simple by staying local.

“We do have some great farmers markets in the area that have those local products,” McGowan says. “We do have some local farms where you can buy directly off the farm. We’re also fortunate that some of our area’s local grocery stores carry local produce as well. So, just look for that whenever you do your grocery shopping. Try to purchase local whenever possible, and let’s help our local family farmers out.”

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