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Grassland group: Ranchers need a plan to deal with drought

April 25, 2022 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D (AP) — Ranchers say moisture from recent scattered rains are a welcome addition but nowhere near the amount needed to get South Dakota pastures back on track for normal production.

The South Dakota Grassland Coalition is urging ranchers to plan ahead. Bart Carmichael, of Faith, a coalition board member, said part of his drought plan included selling half of his cow herd over the last year.

“Not planning is a plan to fail, I really believe that,” Carmichael said.

Almost 90 percent of the state remains in severe or moderate drought or abnormally dry, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

Ryan Beer. a rangeland management specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bison, said up 150 percent of normal rainfall would be needed in May and June to get back to normal forage production.

Carmichael said he looks at drought as a way to improve his management skills, in part by ranking his cows from most desirable to least desirable. Once you put a cow in the cull group, he said, it takes the emotion out of selling them.

“It’s hard to look at drought making things better but that’s our outlook on it,” Carmichael said.

North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska are also experiencing widespread drought, Drought Monitor statistics show.