News / USA

Record Drought Punishes Arkansas Agriculture

Greg Flakus

CENTRAL ARKANSAS — One of the worst-hit drought zones in North America is Arkansas, where lack of rain threatens livestock and crops in almost every corner of the southern state.  Farmers are selling off cattle and desperately hoping for a sustained period of rain to undo the damage that has been done.

Arkansas still looks very green. But the grass is short and there is not much good for animal feed.

Even as temperatures soar over 40 degrees Celsius, big white clouds float in the sky.

Occasionally they produce a downpour.

A burst of rain is very welcome here, but experts say it is not enough.

Meteorologists say more than 38 centimeters of slow, steady rain would be needed in some areas to bring them up to normal.

Lack of grass has forced cattle producers like Karen Haralson to spend more on expensive feed, and she says a recent rain has not helped. "It put just a little bit of green in the grass, but all it gave it was color, it didn't give it any growth," she said.

She has had to reduce her herd from more than 250 to around 150, leaving her with too few cattle to operate effectively in the year to come.

"To run the farm, I am going to have to have more cows than I have, so when I go to replace them there will be limited replacement, so the price will be much higher.  So it is kind of a vicious circle," she said.

In nearby Atkins, farmers gather in the Atkins International Cafe at lunchtime and reveal their woes to waitress Cindy Johnson.

"The early crops that went in, they spent on the fertilizer and all, the yields were low.  There is no moisture to put anything back in on the second round, everything is just dry and drought," she said.

In Faulkner County, Extension agent Hank Chaney says yields on most row crops, like soy beans, rice and corn, are going to be well below 50 percent this year unless rain comes soon.

"We need at least three or four days of good, slow, steady rainfall.  It would be nice, of course, if we could get a week of it, but at least that to help us soak up and for the ground to recharge," he said.

Chaney says around 30 percent of the farmers in his area have an edge on Mother Nature because they have ground water they can tap for irrigation.

These center-pit irrigation systems are expensive to buy and operate.

But Chris Schaefers, whose family owns eight of them, says they get their money back in better yields and better credit at the bank. "It sure does make them feel better, when you go to your lending officer to know that you have irrigation behind you, especially in years like this," he said.

The Schaefers will benefit from the high commodity prices that are bound to result from this year's dry conditions.

For farmers who can count on their own irrigation system, it will be a little easier to get through this drought, but everyone else is going to have to rely on Mother Nature. 

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More