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‘We’re just taking the brunt of it’ : C.O. farmers face more drought struggles as inflation pushes up costs

(Update: Adding video, comments from Larkin Valley Ranch owner, Oregon Cattlemen's Association)

'You are seeing people leave that industry that just can't go any more.'

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Many Central Oregon farmers and ranchers are still feeling the impacts of the ongoing drought, despite a fair amount of winter snow and rain on the High Desert.

Larkin Valley Ranch in Redmond raises grass-fed beef and has been in business since 1946.

Owner Jeff Larkin said Wednesday that the overall costs are much higher, and he's trying not to pass them on to clients -- but he thinks he'll eventually have to.

"We're just taking the brunt of it, and we're paying the extra money for the hay, and we're paying and we're buying more hay so we can get through it, so that we can continue to supply our clients and our customers with our beef business," Larkin said.

 The third-generation farmer is still feeling the effects of the drought.

"The lack of water we've had in the area has definitely had an impact on us," he said.

Larkin said the drought is also affecting the production of hay. 

"Our pastures are shorted up," he said. "We're having to feed hay a month or two longer than we have in past years."

"The hay cost has gone over well over a $100 a ton from what we used to buy it for -- for now," he added. 

Larkin said the drought has affected other farms and ranches -- if they can't grow anything, it devalues the land. 

"We cut back on our older cattle," he said. "We're not taking our older cattle that need more nourishment to get through, so we've cut back on that. We've put a lot of youth into our herds." 

 The Oregon Cattlemen's Association assists struggling ranchers in reaching out to lawmakers for help. 

Cheryl Martin is a member of the association and tells us the impact.

"It gives us a collective voice when we want to speak to our legislators, our agencies, their natural resource groups," Martin said. "It's an opportunity to speak as one voice." 

The association's legislative priorities and concerns are on water and wildlife issues. 

"We believe there are strength in numbers," she said. "We have about 2,000 members in our organization and beef industry is the second ag commodity in the state of Oregon."

Larkin said he is committed to keeping the family ranch running, selling beef to loyal customers.

"That's the heartbreaking part of it," he said. "You are seeing people leave that industry that just can't go any more."

Article Topic Follows: Business

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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