USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan toured drought-stricken fields near Gridley Monday, pledging support for farmers. Merrigan saw spider mites in David Meiss’s soybean field and saw cattle grazing in standing corn at Schlipf Farms. That field was not worth combing, as it would have yielded about 10 bushels per acre. Farmer Dave Mool says the failed crop is disappointing, but it is saving the cattle herd.
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“We’ve been able to since turn our cows out, and fence off portions at a time and let them graze the stalks, which is critical because our pastures were pretty much burnt up, too. We started feeding our winter hay supply approximately July 4 of this year,” Mool said. Feed for cattle is expensive and in short supply, which is why some farmers are having to liquidate their herds. Merrigan told the farmers she knows they are hurting and also recognizes the need for a permanent farm bill.