Drought Hits Nevada Farmers Hard

MOAPA VALLEY, Nev. -- The drought has hit the West hard, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has now declared Nevada a disaster area. Farmers feel the fallout first. Consumers feel it next, when it drives up food prices.

Nevada is desperately dry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 11 western and central states are suffering from the drought. About 97 percent of Nevada is in a drought. It's so bad, a State of Emergency has been declared.

Only an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, the Moapa Valley offers a simpler life, closer to nature. Glen Hardy is an 81-year-old farmer and the hay his animals depend on for feed could dry up.

"I've lived in Logandale all my life. In fact, we're third and fourth generation," Hardy said.

He knows all about the science of farming. He taught agriculture in the high school for 30 years and he knows a thing or two about droughts.

"It's nature in action and the thing we have to remember, we live in a desert, and we get three or four inches of rain a year on a normal average."

"The drought's a very serious thing," said Jim Hardy, president of the Clark County Farm Bureau.

Hardy is Glen's son.

"It's part of the gamble of farming and ranching, but you're trying to make a go of it and figure it out," Jim Hardy said.

A disaster declaration by the federal government means eligible farmers, suffering from the drought, can qualify for USDA assistance, including low-interest emergency loans.

"That's important. The government kind of steps in and helps boost us up a little bit," Jim Hardy said.

The situation in the Moapa Valley is better than the rest of Nevada because the water is constant, from the Muddy River.

"It's January. There's still time for snow this year. We just hope we'll get the snow back for the mountain for the Colorado River," Glen Hardy said.

For other farmers out West, the Colorado River is key to the water's return.

"I think it will come back. We just don't know when," Glen Hardy said.

He's seen droughts go in 10 or 15 year cycles.

Meantime, Jim Hardy, as president of the farm bureau, is hearing from a lot of farmers about the drought in Nevada. The drought affects cattle prices, grain prices, and just about everything economically they do.


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