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Farmers, conservationists desperate during bad drought

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LAWTON Okla_ Farmers and conservationists are calling this drought the worst they've ever experienced.

Some farmers are resorting to drilling for water just to keep their animals. Some are selling their animals, because there simply is not enough water to keep them healthy.

If this drought continues, USDA District Conservationist Kirk Schreiner said it will affect urban areas, which could eventually affect our drinking water.

"The shallower the water gets," Schreiner said, "the warmer the water temp is. The warmer the temp is, the faster the evaporation happens."

Without rain, the cycle becomes detrimental to our state's economy. Farmers, of course, are taking the biggest hit.

"A lot of times, people are tapping into rural water lines, running pipe lines, constructing livestock water facilities, tire tanks, etc. to get the water out there. They are drilling a well to pipe the water to a certain pasture."

Often, these attempts to seek water underground come up dry. So, for some farmers, liquidation is the only option.

"People have to sell their cattle off," Schreiner said. "Buy more hay. It's more expensive, and the bottom line is they're all trying to make a living."

A farmer himself, and a conservationist for the federal government, Schreiner said this drought is devastating.

"It's the worst I've ever seen. I've been around agriculture for quite some time. Last year, we didn't have any rain. The grass didn't green up at all, but we're really in worse shape this year. Last year, we still had pond water; we still had stock piles of grass in pastures that hadn't been grazed."

Schreiner said some spots are dryer than others. The further west you go, the worse it gets. Schreiner said when agriculture is the state's number one industry, it doesn't matter where in Oklahoma you are. Whether you realize it or not, you are affected by this drought.

"Everything comes from agriculture," Schreiner said. "The clothes we wear, the food we eat: Everything's based on agriculture. If we don't have the rain this next spring, if this drought continues, we'll be in a whole lot worse shape, and everyone's going to feel the effects of it a year from now."

A conservationist in Jefferson County said in the more rural areas, desperate farmers are even going to the fire departments for water. The Lawton Fire Department said the city doesn't allow it, but rural areas are using the departments tanker trucks to help keep their animals alive.



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