The Drought’s Impact on Next Year

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Mascot, Knox County (WVLT) - Being more than a foot short on rainfall has changed our perspectives in more ways than one this summer. And as the drought keeps us hot and dry, it drives up prices, especially when it comes to food, but what does the drought mean for next year?

Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman takes a look.

Farmers are paying more to feed their cattle and many are selling down their herds to survive the drought.

"So we're liquidating a lot of cows. So that's our productive capacity to produce more beef cattle for next year. So I think the numbers will be tighter for next year (smaller) and prices will probably be higher next year,” says Dr. Emmit Rawl, UT professor of agricultural economics.

Knoxville Livestock Center usually sells about 1,000 head of cattle a week. But that was before the drought.

Two-thousand head of cattle sold here on Thursday alone. Now, if the drought continues, that number could balloon to as high as 3,000 within the very next few weeks.

"If people don't make some plans to either replace their herd for next year or do something, we're gonna have a shortage come this time next year,” says Jason Bailey, manager and co-owner of the Knoxville Livestock Center.

Which more than likely means higher prices for us when we sit down for a burger and fries or shop for a gallon of milk in 2008.

"We're seeing a flood in the market. There is an over supply of ground beef-hamburger and that type of thing. This time next year, we may be seeing the opposite affect,” Bailey says.

But for now, recovery from the drought may come quicker for nature than for our pocketbooks.

"The atmosphere recovers quickly and the ecosystem recovers quickly and the drought will just be a memory in a short period of time if we can get the rain we need,” explains meteorologist Scott Blalock.

Once we get past this year, experts say the feed costs for cattle will likely remain high.

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