MERKEL, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Famers and ranchers in the Big Country have been hard-hit by a widespread drought this growing season. The dry weather has effectively forced our farmers and ranchers to look for alternative ways to stay afloat this year.

The drought pushed agriculturalists to purchase feed and hay from outside of the Big Country, in order to feed their livestock.

The cost of seeds reportedly increased around 60% compared to last year. Today, the average bag of wheat seed costs around $30.00. Last year that same bag cost about $20.00.

Many farmers, like Tim Shields from Tim and Tammy Shields Farm in Merkel, have reduced the number of crop seeds they will plant this year.

“Sometimes you feel kinda hopeless helpless when it doesn’t rain and there’s not anything you can do about it,” Shields explained.

Taylor County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural resources, Steve Estes, told KTAB/KRBC the drought increases expenses in a variety of ways.

“We didn’t get to produce much because of the drought, and therefore, a lot of hay for our local livestock has been brought in from outside the area. With trucking expenses and transportation costs rising, and supply and demand, it caused for those prices to go really high,” Estes detailed.

Local agriculturalists have reported that they’ve had to spend less time in the field in order to save on fuel and supply. Be that as it may, many remain hopeful for the upcoming fall and winter seasons – wishing for rain.

However, if the dry conditions continue, many said they’ll have to sell off some of their livestock because there is simply not enough grass or wheat for the animals to feed.