What Options Are Left? Frustration and Hopelessness Among Montana Farmers and Ranchers
This has been a year unlike any other we have had in recent memory. The frustration and dismal outlook for a good year in agriculture is all too real.
Yesterday, after 105 degrees and virtually two and a half months without any real precipitation, I sat down in my shop and for the first time in my life felt a sense of hopelessness. I know that many are in the same boat and like a chess game, trying to plan their next move. With no hay production combined with diminishing grass by the day, cattle producers are selling their livestock with no other options. Hay is starting to push $200 per ton making it virtually impossible to pencil out its worth. Keep in mind that this is only June 15th with the hottest and driest 90 days yet to come. We are really going to need some creativity and ingenuity to get through this tumultuous time.
I've been doing this for almost 40 years now and I've never seen a year so bad so early. In fact, I've talked to ranchers that have had their places for a hundred years and can't remember a year where they didn't get at least some feed. To compound the problem, grain farmers are also on edge with the prospect of a bad crop, shriveled grain, and now, the cherry on top, the grasshoppers have hatched and soon will devour everything that's left in their path. Insurance will never make up for the losses that will be incurred this year, so explains the look of frustration on my face.
For all of you that think farmers and ranchers have it made, think again. The one thing I do know is that we are resilient and determined. Some call it stubbornness, whatever. But I do know we will fight like hell to save what we so dearly love. Keep your head up.