USDA Declares 61 Counties In Arkansas Disasters After Drought

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- After dealing with severe droughts, relief is in sight for some Arkansas farmers.

Close to all of the counties in Arkansas have been declared as disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of drought conditions.

Washington County is one of the 61 counties designated as drought stricken.

Rancher Jeff Marley said the drought began early last fall, but you have to look at the drought on a long-term picture.

“Even though we had eight inches of rain three weeks ago, prior to that it was dry and we did not have the grass and the forage to help get us...feed the cattle through the wintertime. So we have used up more hay. Our ponds went low. The creeks ran dry,” he said.

Marley said he even was looking into auxiliary water sources and cows were getting stuck in the mud of what was left of ponds. He said some like himself will plant cool season grass like rye and oats.

“It came out of the ground and stopped. I mean all you could see was the green rows, there was no growth to it. So we got zero grazing out of it. There is a little right now, it`s rained, it warmed up and it cooled off again,” he said.

President of the Washington County chapter of the Arkansas Cattleman’s Association Allen Shumate said he started with 1,700 bales of hay from last summer's cutting and is now down to around 500 which is less than in most years.

“We're digging away on into our so called surplus that we would normally carry over. So we've dug into that quite a bit, so we are going to hope for a good spring and summer, so we can fill back up,” he said.

Other counties in our area declared disasters are Carroll, Crawford, Johnson, Madison and Sebastian.