Middle Tennessee farmers feel effects of drought - WSMV Channel 4

Middle Tennessee farmers feel effects of drought

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Over the past few weeks, Tennessee has seen wildfires, poor air quality and a state of emergency because of the drought.

If it continues, farmers say it's possible the Midstate could eventually see price increases at the grocery store.

"We have seen the pastures go down," said Matthew Wade, director of the MTSU farm laboratories.

This time of year he said the cattle should be grazing the fields. However, because of the drought, the grass is brown and they are left with hay.

"We have had to add hay about a month earlier, we have also had to add some protein tubs and some minerals and that sort of thing to keep up with what we are losing with the grass not being here," said Wade.

All of that costs farmers money.

"That can cost anywhere from $45 to $60 a bale," said Wade.

As the costs go up, Wade said what happened a few years ago in Oklahoma and Texas was farmers started selling off some of their cattle.

"And what that meant was the national inventory went down, therefore, prices went up, which was good for the farmer but bad for the consumers," said Wade.

Channel 4 News asked Wade if he thinks that could happen in Tennessee.

"People should be able to weather it for some time, but if this lasts through spring, then we will start seeing that sell-off of cattle," said Wade.

For now, though, prices should remain steady and crops were not affected by the drought.

"The rain stopped after those plants stopped growing," said Wade.

Meanwhile the cattle will continue to eat hay while farmers hope to get rain soon and snow over the winter to prepare the ground for next planting season.

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