State offers help to drought-stricken farmers
After Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker toured farms in Burlington and Dodgeville, he met with farm groups and others to assess what might be done to assist those affected by the drought and lessen its impact on the state's $60 billion agriculture industry.
Many Wisconsin producers are losing crops and facing a shortage of feed for their cattle and dairy cows. Southern Wisconsin is experiencing the worst drought conditions seen in more than 20 years.
Walker announced July 24 that 11,000 acres of state-owned land could be used for hay production and cattle grazing. He said farmers would have to sign agreements assuring that all hay taken from state property will be used to feed livestock - and it would not be sold. Farmers will only be able to make one cutting of hay - and special harvest will end August 10th for prairie grasses, and August 30th for cool season grasses.
The USDA said July 24 that it will allow farmers to graze their cattle on lands set
aside for conservation, which typically protect against erosion or work to create wildlife habitat. The land(s) can be used to feed livestock in emergencies.
The USDA says farmers in all drought categories - including the "abnormally dry" one - can use the conservation lands for feed. Governor Scott Walker says those interested should contact their local Farm Service Agency offices.
Federal officials said this week that 43% of Wisconsin's corn crop was in poor-to-very-poor condition, same as a week ago, with only 26% listed as fair.