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Ranchers weigh drought options
Water is low in the Blacks Fork River near Flaming Gorge. U.S. Geological Survey

Ranchers weigh drought options

Jul 27, 2012 - The Associated Press

LARAMIE -- A show of hands isn't scientific evidence, but it can make a point.

At a workshop about drought management options for livestock producers recently at the Albany County Fairgrounds, University of Wyoming Extension educator Dallas Mount asked the audience how many were experiencing the worst drought conditions in the last 10 years.

Most in the audience raised their hands.

Mount asked how many were experiencing the worst drought in the last 30 years, and most of those hands stayed up.

"How about the worst drought conditions for the whole time you've been running cows?" Mount asked.

About half in the audience kept their hands raised.

"Definitely," someone said.

One workshop participant said she's seeing the worst drought conditions on her family's ranch since it was started in 1887.

"There's nothing in its history like this," she said.

Mount, who is based in Platte County and is leading workshops around the state, said the situation for livestock producers is severe, especially now that cattle prices have dropped from a high point six weeks ago.

"The mood has become much more somber," he said.

Eight counties in Wyoming had been designated as primary natural disaster areas because of drought, with eight others qualifying for assistance for being contiguous to those primary counties.

Gov. Mead has requested that all Wyoming counties receive the drought disaster declaration except for Teton County.

"We are seeing ranchers and sheep producers selling off livestock because of a lack of grass and hay," Mead said in a press release. "Wildfires have burned up pasture further. It is hard to watch."

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