Drought, harsh weather, hurting Nebraska farmers and ranchers


Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald (NE) 

Sep 18, 2022


When Kurt Bruning stands in his field of dryland corn, nothing blocks his view.


That’s not the way it should be. The corn should stand higher than the cap and sunglasses perched on his head.


But this year, as harvest approaches, he has a wide view of stunted, yellowing corn.


Exceptional drought has reached his farm in northeast Nebraska, making it and southwest Nebraska some of the hardest-hit ground in the country in terms of drought.


“It can’t get any worse,” he said, referring to the area’s drought classification on the U.S. Drought Monitor, a highly regarded map that is published weekly by the National Drought Mitigation Center.


Drought, which has fried crops and pastures and fueled wildfires, is part of a rough year for Nebraska agriculture…


... That’s why, Jantzen, a vice president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, and Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen have lobbied Nebraska’s congressional delegation to support changes in emergency farm aid. The two were in Washington, D.C., last week...


... Hardest hit in Nebraska and elsewhere have been livestock producers because there is not an insurance program similar to crop insurance. The drought is delivering them a double whammy. Lack of rain and poor pastures mean they don’t have sufficient grass and hay on their own property to feed their animals. Additionally, feed prices have become unaffordable. As a result, they are having to prematurely sell off stock.


Wellman noted that this summer has seen the fastest pace of cattle being slaughtered on record, with records dating to 1986.


After counting hay bales and purchasing more at double what they have ever had to pay, Bruning said he and his wife reached the difficult decision this month: sell about half their herd.


“It’s a sad situation up here right now,” he said.


The mother cows that are being sold should be staying on the farm or ranch, helping grow the herd.


“It will affect your income years and years down the road because it takes years to build up a herd,” Bruning said...


more, including photos, video, drought map