Farmers affected by wildfires navigating new uncertainties as rebuilding continues


Farmers and ranchers affected by drought and wildfires are uncertain what’s next for their operation.

Southwest Nebraska rancher Delaine Soucie tells Brownfield he’s prioritizing his cattle over spring planting. “We’re fighting calves dying from smoke inhalation and pneumonia and hopefully we’re going to mass treat 88 pair and hopefully we keep them from dying.”

Farmer Jan TenBensel says he’s been worried about the cost and availability of cover-crop seed. “I started calling immediately. Some guys still aren’t sure what to do. I knew we had to get some cover on that bare ground right away.  We ordered seed within days of the fire, while the fire was still burning actually.”

Ten Bensel tells Brownfield he has most of his cropland sewed to oats and supplies are ok because some farmers in North and South Dakota have been unable to plant because of excess moisture.  

Tyler Ruf says his crop management plan keeps changing. “The irrigated we’re just going to plant it if we can get the pivots up and running. because we did have some pivots go down. Now, the dryland, first-year corn, we might put a cover crop into that some oats and turn around and plant right back into that.”

The producers spoke with Brownfield at a USDA workshop about potential assistance from natural disasters in Cambridge on Thursday.

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