Drought Aid

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

This drought is typical for the Shenandoah Valley. But with other forces combined, local farmers could be in a much deeper financial crisis.

"We've had to use a lot of hay that we'd usually use in the winter," said Carl Arey, a farmer of 22-years. This isn't the worst drought he's seen, but it's definitely been a bad year. "For a while, we were wondering if we'd have any corn at all to put in the silos for winter feed."

He was on the verge of getting a loan. But the little bit of rain we got a few weeks ago helped.

"It's greened up the grass, but the cattle are eating it down as fast as it grows," added Arey. "The corn has really jumped."

Arey may not need federal assistance now, but others are not as lucky.

"What's unique about this drought is that it corresponds with a number of other market forces at play," said Tom Stanley, Augusta County Extension.

Those include, low beef prices, dropping milk prices and the avian flu.

"Those forces together are combining to make what would be a typical drought in the Shenandoah Valley into something much worse," added Stanley.

Especially for those like Arey who have dairy cows and poultry hit by the flu.

"You hate to go borrowing money on borrowed money, but it helps in a way," said Arey.

Stanley says farmers typically get their aid six months to a year after its needed.

Arey says he'll just pray for rain.

The former Augusta County Farm Bureau President, Rick Shifflet tells me, he doesn't understand why congress won't help. He says it's just another wonderful day to be a farmer.

Congress is on its August break. So it will be at least another month before we’ll have an answer on the drought aid.


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