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‘We don’t waste a drop of water’: Utah farmers, ranchers try to survive drought

Posted at 12:39 PM, Jun 08, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — It is no secret Utah is experiencing a historic drought. Last week, Gov. Spencer Cox asked people to pray for rain. It’s something many ranchers and farmers, like Kelby Iverson, have been doing for a while now.

WATCH: Utah cities threaten fines and shutoffs for water wasters

Iverson, alongside his wife, own Western Legacy Farm & Ranch in Hurricane, UT.

“We just want it to rain. We’ve fasted and we’ve prayed and done lots and lots of things in the last couple months,” he said.

The situation is exceptionally dire in southern Utah, the president of the Utah Farm Bureau said.

“If we don’t get rain this summer, if we don’t get the monsoons this summer and fall, it is going to be over for many of our friends,” he said.

The drought has already caused Iverson to start selling off cattle and he said he worries it may just be the start.

“If the drought doesn’t break above average, we will just end up selling just about everything but maybe a few mother cows that we can start over again, if and when the drought breaks,” he said.

Southern Utah Farm

The drought is making taking care of the animals very difficult, Gibson said.

“The biggest thing the drought has done for us is it has increased our feed costs. So it costs us just about double a day to feed our animals than it did a year ago and that’s tough because our income hasn’t doubled,” he said.

The price for cattle has plummeted, Iverson said, as people are forced to sell them off to stay afloat.

“When this happens, all that supply goes into the sale barn so that demand goes down and the prices are horrible,” he said.

Southern Utah Farm

While Iverson is confident he will be able to survive the drought, he knows many others wont be so lucky.

“Our cattle operation is definitely a big player, and our hay operation is definitely a big player in our finances, but we have other things that we’ve diversified," he said.

WATCH: In Utah drought, 'exceptionally dry' is no longer exceptional

“When disasters like this put farms and ranches out of business, they don’t come back. They can’t come back, and we lose that natural resource and we lose that opportunity to produce food here on a local level, that we really don’t want to lose as a society,” he said.

It’s about conserving water and taking this seriously, Gibson said, but everyone needs to do their part.

“We are doing everything we can to fight like dogs and get through it,” he said.