Drought sparks Boothe’s

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 16, 2000

concern for cattle farmers


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June 15, 2000 10 PM

State Rep. Alan Boothe said it’s imperative for the state and federal agencies to come to the aid of America’s farmers, not just in times of emergencies, but

by making long-range decisions that will take some of the risks out of farming.

Boothe attended a meeting of cattle farmers Wednesday at South Alabama Electric Co-op which was conducted by Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Charles Bishop and key staff members.

Bishop discussed the livestock assistance program which will bring hay to drought-stricken southeast Alabama.

Boothe said the program will help sustain herds during the drought that is plaguing cattle and row crop farmers.

"It would be a shame to see cattlemen lose their livelihoods over this crisis," Boothe said. "It’s going to take a cooperative effort on the state and federal levels to keep the cows alive."

Boothe said the distribution of hay to farmers in need is one form of assistance but he would like to see a program that would bring corn to the area.

Last year, corn was a bumper crop and grain bins were bulging.

"It’s much easier to transport a ton of corn than it is a ton of hay because of the bulk," Boothe said. "Corn is a high energy food and it has more nutritional value than hay. Ten pounds of corn will feed a cow a day as opposed to 25 pounds of hay. We need to be looking at corn as a way to help farmers get through this crisis."

Boothe also said he hopes the federal government will give the farmers some relief through the

Conservation Reserve Program.

"We’ve got CRP land that could be released for grazing," Boothe said. "It’s bad to have grazing land available and cows in the next field

with nothing to eat. If the federal government frees up this land, it will be a big help."

The next big issue for cattle farmers is water, Boothe said.

"We’re drying up and we’ve got to consider implementing a farm pond program again," Boothe said. "We need to look at impounding water on farms in the way of ponds and storage tanks. We’ve got to be better prepared for situations like what we are experiencing now. This drought has put us in a bad situation, really bad. And it doesn’t just affect the farming community, it affects every one of us."