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Colorado Ranchers & Farmers Struggle In The Drought

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo (CBS4) – Coloradans are welcoming the monsoon rains that arrived last weekend, but it hasn’t been enough to reverse the drought conditions in Colorado.

Most of the state is experiencing severe to extreme drought because of the unusually dry winter and spring. Around Rocky Ford which is east of Pueblo and in northwestern Colorado drought conditions have hit the extreme level.

Pasture grasses that can grow as high as your head during a wet season and are at least hip high during a regular season, are just ankle high this year.

Sheep ranchers like Karin Utterback-Normann and her husband are having a hard time feeding their sheep. Their pastures are browned out and lacking the nutrition the sheep need.

“This is an enormous amount of stress. We’ve been able not to have to graze these areas that have been so impacted by the heat and the lack of moisture,” Utterback-Normann told CBS4.

They’re not the only ones suffering. Farmers and ranchers across the state are struggling with the lack of rain.

“This is going to be a year that’s going to be a loss year. Agriculture is that way you have boom years and you have loss years,” Utterback-Normann said.

The Routt County Extension office is trying to help. They organized a seminar for farmers and ranchers to discuss their options for a year that’s this severe.

“We knew that people needed not just advice but information on what they should do because they have some real tough to decisions to make,” said Todd Hagenbuch, a Routt County Extension agent.

Even with a few recent rain, some pastures are too far gone. Most of the grasses are so browned out that no amount of rain could bring them back.

–Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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