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Drought conditions taking their toll on Idaho livestock

“I’ve managed the sale yard here for thirty-eight years...I’ve never seen it this bad.”
Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 10:17 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Drought conditions in Idaho are taking a toll on many industries and livestock ranchers are not immune to the impacts.

Combinations of dry conditions, hay prices and low amounts of grazing grasses leave local livestock experts concerned about how the rest of the year will go.

“I’ve been in this business all my life,” said Bruce Billington of Twin Falls Livestock Commission, “I’ve managed the sale yard here for thirty-eight years. I’ve never seen it; I’ve never seen it this bad.”

Billington says rancher’s efforts to make it through the rest of the year will have an impact on years to come.

“People don’t seem to understand, they think once this year is done, we’re good,” Billington said. “Well, they’re having to graze a little harder than they like anyway, so there’s not going to be any feed left for next spring or fall feed. So, this is going to be a long-term effect.”

These long-term impacts will threaten an industry that is a staple in Idaho, but state officials are confident those who make up the industry will pull through these hard times.

“The state of Idaho is based around agriculture and the livestock industry,” said Cameron Mulrony from Idaho Cattleman’s Association. We’re very resilient and we’ll press forward.”

Mulrony’s worry surrounds the health of public grazing lands, which he says sustains the cattle industry in Idaho. According to Billington for it only being June, the outlook of those lands doesn’t offer much promise.

“That’s in June, and if you go up into the hills and take a look at what the grass it,” Billington said, “it looks like the end of July or middle of August.”

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