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Longtime cattle ranchers fearful of future amid severe drought conditions

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CLINTON - An hour north of Baton Rouge on a sprawling piece of property, you'll find rolling hills and grass that is supposed to be lush. Instead, it's brown and scorched down to the soil.

Glenn Delee has been a cattle rancher for his entire life. His family business dates back more than a century, when his dad and his family started it.

"This drought has severely impacted us and everyone else involved," Delee said. "From row crop to the cattle farmer. There is no production."

Delee points to pictures from this exact same time last year. The grass was green and lush. There was plenty of green grass for his 1,000 cattle to graze on. One year later, and his hundreds of acres of land is totally barren. Ponds on his property are beginning to dry up, and trees that are typically hearty are dying under the extreme conditions.

Delee said he typically spends between $600 to $700 per year for each cow that he owns to take care of them. This year, he expects that to exceed $1,000, because there's no grass for his cows to eat. Delee is having to truck in hay from anywhere he can find it.

"We are out buying hay from everywhere," Delee said. "I've got trucks above Jackson, Mississippi from a dairy barn, cutting some off the levee and bringing it to us. It's a three or four-hour haul. From $5, four fold, the cost just getting it here. We are just trying to survive."

The drought monitor currently has our area in a severe drought according to our own Chief Meteorologist Dr. Josh Eachus. Eachus said State Climatologist Barry Keim is expected to increase our area into the red zone, extreme drought, this week.

"It's not going to end when we do get rain," Delee said. "This is a carryover of two years. End of this winter through next spring and fall, it's damaged a lot of the grass. Following year, you will have to have two good years to support what this has affected."

Delee said this impact will be felt on consumers.

"I told a fella yesterday, I hope it don't, but it might put us out (of business)," Delee said.

This week, the feds authorized 13 parishes to receive drought assistance that helps ranchers and farmers buy feed and other necessities for their cattle. East Feliciana was not one of the parishes that was approved in that announcement.

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