By Raya Quttaineh
BARNESVILLE, Minn. (KVRR) – Rep. Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota’s 7th District visited a Clay County farm Tuesday to get a firsthand look at the challenges farmers are facing during the drought.
Four miles outside of Barnesville, brothers Jake and Nathan Thompson operate Four Hill Farms, Inc.
“It’s a challenge. Where we’re at here now is probably as good in the area, in the regional area, there is,” said Jake. “We farm about 2,500 acres consisting of corn, soybeans, wheat, sugar beets, and alfalfa and we calve out about 200 calf-cow pairs.”
With drought conditions recently worsening, the fourth generation family farm is struggling.
“We have caught half-inch rain here, half-inch rain there but yeah, we’re seeing some major stress on pastures,” Jake said.
He says their alfalfa growth is only half of what it typically would be. Oat and barley, he says, hasn’t even reached half.
The brothers are relying on grazing their Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, land to try and make up the hay supply.
Rep. Fischbach says one of her main goals is to get more CRP land eligible for Minnesota farmers to hay.
“We need to make sure that that’s open and that farmers can use that because it is — they need it now. We’re hearing all about cattle being, those herds having to be culled because of the lack of food and lack of grazing abilities so we need to make sure that that gets open,” Fischbach said.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 76% of Minnesota is experiencing a “moderate” to “severe” drought. Most of Clay County is experiencing a “moderate” drought.
Jake says even more problems could lie ahead. “We’re also considering, ‘What if this continues, we don’t get much snow, continues next spring.’ We’re going to be way worse than we are this year.”
Many northwestern Minnesota counties are experiencing “extreme” drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Farmers have been hit hard by the extreme drought, and I saw it firsthand at Four Hill Farms near Barnesville today. pic.twitter.com/4wfOgvmO7d— Rep. Michelle Fischbach (@RepFischbach) August 4, 2021