Disaster relief for cattle ranchers

FRESNO, Calif.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that people can sign up for disaster assistance programs.

Dry Creek and normally filled with water, but this year, it's a much drier place. The river bank is all but sand and surrounding land, once used as feed, is dry and brittle.

Rancher Cindy Tews said, "But this is the first time in the history that it has been dry that our partner Bonner can remember and Bonner turns 90 this year."

Tews is president of the Fresno-Kings County Cattlemen Association and one of the many California ranchers hit hard by the drought.

Months after President Obama's visit to the Fresno-area, the federal government is now providing assistance.

Fresno County Ag Commissioner Les Wright said, "The emergency programs were designed to help the livestock producer. Everything from feeding assistance to help with rehabbing their water sources for their animals."

During the drought farmers and ranchers are doing what they can to survive. In fact, the Tews moved herds of cattle to a nearby pasture land weeks ahead of schedule. They're irrigating the land just to feed the cows.

A lofty expense, but fortunately, Tews believe they'll be able to sell their cattle, since beef prices are at a record high. A cost, which will be passed onto consumers.

And although some ranchers are jumping to take advantage of the federal program, Tews says she is still on the fence on whether she'll sign up.

"We take pride in being self-sustainable," said Tews. "We don't like to the government for help, we prefer that it rains, that we have water in the creek, dams get built, pumps get turned on. But we have to look at the whole picture."

You can sign up for assistance at any local farm service agency service center.

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