Impact of Severe Drought Being Felt in Southern Iowa

CHARITON, Iowa -- People in southern Iowa are waiting for relief from severe drought. Clarke, Lucas, Decatur, and Wayne counties are experiencing the worst of it. The lack of rain is having an impact on cattle country.

"It`s definitely impacting our pastures," said Joe Sellers – Beef Specialist at Iowa State University Extension Office. "They`re not recovering very fast and I think some of the producers will start feeding hay sooner," said Sellers.

At the McNay Research Farm in Lucas County, the impact of severe drought is being felt.

"A little over a half an inch isn`t near enough for pastures and the crops," said Agriculture Specialist Logan Wallace. 

Not only is the lack of moisture is tough on the crops, but it's also tough on the cattle.

"The high heat and dry weather affects them, just like it does everything else," said Agriculture Specialist Brad Evans.

And summer is a critical time of year for cattle producers in Iowa.

"Breeding season for us is the first part of June through the middle of July, so all of our cows have been out to be bred by the bull and by some of our early preg check data the first part of the breeding season was really tough," said Evans. "Some of our numbers were really significantly down from what they`ve been in the past and a lot of that`s due to the high heat. The cattle suffer heat stress, and just elevated body temperatures affects them as much as it does the crops."

And if the drought keeps us like this, shoppers could be feeling the impact in their wallets.

"It could affect prices that consumers see at a grocery store, not short term, maybe long term if through this summer our numbers really hurt and we`re down on cattle numbers again," said Evans. "Then, that`s gonna drive the price of beef up as the supply is limited."

The Iowa Beef Center has a web page that lists several drought-related resources, found here, for cattle producers looking for some additional information and resources.