Cattle Ranchers Feeling Drought Pain

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For 100 years, the Scheiber Ranch in Lincoln has been filled with cattle. But, with no rain to grow the grass needed to feed the cows, times are tough and numbers are down.

“We’ve already had to sell some calves and ween the rest from their mothers months before we normally would,” said Carol Scheiber.

The lack of rain, and the ranch’s location in zone five of the Placer County Water Agencies, means the ranch will not get irrigation water because the zone is considered a surplus zone — and with a water shortage, that water is going elsewhere.

The family’s last crop was planted on a 50-acre plot of land on the ranch back in November. It would traditionally be about six inches high by now; however, these days it’s just dirt with no sign anything will grow.

The Scheiber’s story is a familiar one for Placer County Farm Bureau President, and fellow rancher, Joe Fisher.

“We’ve seen ranchers having to sell cattle months before they normally would, with cattle going to places like Texas and Oklahoma, other areas that have been in a drought for a while now,” Fisher said.

Even with constant rain – which is not in the forecast – crops still wouldn’t be ready to harvest in time to meet demand of area ranchers.

“Times are tough, but you take the good with the bad and this may be going on for a while to come,” Scheiber said.

The Placer County Water Agency will be holding a public forum this Thursday to discuss a drought emergency in the western part of the county. Officials are expected to vote whether or not to reduce treated water usage by 35% and canal water by 50%.

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