Canada

Drought forcing Alberta ranchers to sell off cattle

The drought in Western Canada is forcing some Alberta rachers to sell off their cattle.

The drought that's hit many parts of Western Canada this summer is already having an effect on the beef sales. Drought is forcing many Alberta ranchers to sell off some, or even all, of their livestock. "It's a real depressing occupation right now," said rancher Jim Hart.

It's a situation that's gone from bad to worse. Earlier this summer there's was hope rain could turn things around. Now it's too late. "Farmers don't sell until they absolutely have to. This is a sign that they have nowhere to turn," said Sheldon Wilcox of Nilsson Bros. Livestock Exchange, which is auctioning off the cattle.

Conditions are drying up pasture land and making it hard to find feed. Those who do find it are paying three times the regular market price for a bale of hay.

Some farmers say it's the worst drought they've seen on almost 30 years.

Most of Alberta's farming area is bone dry. Normally the province would have received 30 mm of rain. So far this month it's received only 0.2 mm.

Wade Meakin, a third generation cattle farmer, says this drought may force him out of the business. "I might have to go out and find a job," he said.

Jim Hart is considering that, too. Next week he'll sell off most of the cattle he has left. "I've been in this business for 35 years. It may be time to get out."

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