California drought is causing ranchers to sell off cattle which will have a lasting impact


by Mason Carroll, KTVL (OR)

July 28th 2022


SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — California is on year three of one of the worst droughts in state history, and it’s hurting our farmers and ranchers.


Jim Rickert owns Prather Ranch and has been ranching in the Northstate for more than five decades. He said this could be one of the worst droughts in his lifetime.


“It’s been a cause of the significant problem for us,” Rickert said. “In some areas, we have an irrigation district there and our allotment from the state water district is zero. So zero is pretty hard to work with.”


He said when people think about the drought they need to remember it goes beyond a lack of water.


“We’re trying to preserve the herds, and the price of hay has doubled, so the feedstuff has really gone up,” Rickert. “And we don’t have as much hay being produced because we have all the drought ”


Rickert said this has meant making some tough and emotional choices like the decision to sell off part of their herd.


Inflation also plays a role in their hard times. He said their input costs have increased exponentially thanks to inflation. Farming necessities such as fertilizer, hay, and even power bills for needing to pump water have all increased.


This isn't just a problem for the present, it causes a chain reaction because of how long it takes to raise and breed cattle.


“That calf is born today won’t be able to have a calf until its two years old and then that calf won’t be ready to be marketed until a year and a half, two years after that,” Rickert said.


Even if California gets rain to offset the drought, Rickert said the effects of it will be felt long after it's gone...


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