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Sonoma County hay farmer heavily impacted by drought

The drought is hitting hay farmers hard. And that, in turn, will affect consumers. It means the price of food will be going up.
February 14, 2014 6:25:19 PM PST
As the drought continues in California, we spoke with a hay farmer in Sonoma County who says they are in desperate need of help this year.

The good news is that, yes, we had rain last week and there's more on the way. A little grass is growing in pasture lands. But we're not out of the drought. The big problem for cattle ranchers now is hay, or the lack of it.

"Right now, this should be ankle high," hay farmer Norm Yenni said. "It's not even growing."

Yenni likes to think of himself as an optimist. But when he plants seed to grow rye grass and has only a little to show for it six weeks later, that can be a test.

He's a hay farmer in Sonoma County, one of the people upon whom ranchers rely when rain doesn't fall, the grass doesn't grow, and their cattle still need to eat.

And this year, Yenni is yet another link in the drought's chain of pain. He only has two truckloads of hay left.

When asked how long it'll last his customers, Yenni says, "Oh, a week or two. After that they have to go someplace else. I can't give them what I don't have, that's the bottom line. It's very frustrating. You know, you do everything right and it still doesn't work."

So what does this mean for you? It means the price of food will be going up. Everything from meat to cheese will increase.

Cattle ranchers have started bringing in more expensive hay from other parts of the country.

We watched some hay delivered here from just south of the Oregon border. It was an $11,000 load. That rancher told us last week he brought in some hay from Texas and that he paid some Texas sized prices.


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