Dry conditions affect future of cattle industry in Loudon Co.


This early onset of summer has cattle farmers in Loudon County concerned about the future of their industry.

President of the Loudon County livestock association, David Brashears, is worried his herd of cattle won't have food if the dry, hot weather continues at this rate.

His pastures are running out quickly and with no rain in sight, he's planning to feed them hay by next month. He normally doesn't resort to hay until November.

However,  that's going to present a problem, because his hay crop is down 60%. If he can't afford to feed them, he will be forced to sell his heard.

"If we have to start feeding hay, then we'll feed out pretty quickly. We'll have the same situation that we had in 2007," Brashears said.

Loudon County has lost close to 30% of cattle producers in previous droughts because they were forced to sell.

Director of the University of Tennessee Extension Agency in Loudon County, John Goddard, believes this has the potential to have a major impact on the area.

"It could be hundreds of dollars per animal, thousands of dollars per farmer," Goddard said.

He's worried that if Loudon farmers are forced to sell their herds, they'll get out of the business completely.

"Average age of the farmer is older than myself and they're tired of fighting this battle with mother nature," he said.

Now all the farmers can do is hope and pray for rain so that battle will end.

Goddard also said if enough cattle farmers are forced to sell, beef prices will rise.