East Tennessee farmers facing hay shortage due to drought

Farmers are feeding cattle hay earlier in the year, using most of their supplies before the winter.

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WALLAND (WATE) – East Tennessee farmers are in the middle of a months-long drought due to no rain and hot days. The drought has caused farmers to start harvesting and feeding cattle hay earlier in the season than they would have in the past.

Two farmers in Blount County say they’re just doing what they can to get through the winter.

“We’ve been in it for the last couple months. It’s really bad right now, but we were in pretty good shape up until a couple months ago,” said Gurge Norton.

Norton farms 250 acres and has 225 cattle. He and his wife Teresa say they have started feeding their cattle hay earlier in the year. Two barns sit on their property, normally would be filled with hay, but because of the drought only one is full.

Up the road, Lynn Walters farms 1,300 acres and has cattle, hay, and crops like corn, wheat, and soy beans. He describes the year as “dismal” and says he made two thirds of last year’s profits.

“It’s been a discouraging year really. It started off really good everything looked really good… looked at that point that it was going to be a bumper crop. Then 79 days over 90 degrees [in] the summer and fall, has affected everything in a bad way,” Walters said.

These shortages will affect customers too through grocery store prices. For now, both farmers are wishing for one thing: rain.

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