'We’re to the point where anything helps': Drought hits farmers, ranchers hard

Dry, hot conditions are also fueling wildfires in the BWCA.


Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)

July 15, 2021


Rachel Gray and her family raise beef cattle on their farm in Blackduck, in Beltrami County, in far north central Minnesota.


Right now she says they're grazing about 500 heifers, along with 17 bulls. But she said that's not going to last much longer.


"We are currently running out of pasture even though we've been very careful to manage those areas,” said Gray. “It is like nothing we have seen up here."


She said typically her land is wet, and grass is plentiful. But this year she said it's so dry the grass just isn't growing. She's predicting she'll only be able to grow about a third of the hay they normally do to feed their livestock. She said that's forced her to reduce her herd.


"Right now we are pulling cattle and shipping early,” said Gray. “We're not supposed to be shipping cattle until October. We don't have the feed or the pasture to feed these cattle up here right now."


Gray said other ranchers she knows are weaning their calves a month or two early, and selling them. Others are selling cow and calf pairs, something she said hardly ever happens in her region.


 "The problem with that is it is changing our operations, not only for today, tomorrow, next week, it's changing our operations for the next years, people are losing genetics that they worked hard to get for a lifetime," said Gray...


more, including Minnesota drought map