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Arizona farmers and ranchers see relief from drought

Posted at 5:46 AM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 08:46:51-04

The recent rain and snow across Arizona is putting a smile on the face of farmers.

After drought conditions worsened into 2018, farmers and ranchers are now seeing some relief. ABC15 has frequently touched base with the owners of Mortimer Farms in Dewey, who say this winter is the best they've seen in terms of rainfall, just one year after the worst.

"The ground is really wet," said Sharla Mortimer with Mortimer Farms. "We're foreseeing a great year this year with the grasses growing good."

That is good news for Mortimer, who says last year's drought had a big impact, especially on the ranching operation.

"It's very stressful," Mortimer said. "Last year we were hauling... we had two men hauling water to the livestock everyday. All day long that's all they got to do was just move water to the livestock to sustain life there."

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, currently only about 5% of Arizona is considered in at least a severe drought. Last year at this time, that number was around 84%.

Given the drought conditions in 2018, federal resources became available to help those impacted. According to the Arizona Farm Service Agency, payments were available to help ranchers supplement feed/water hauling costs. In the 2018 program year, 2,279 producers received payments as part of the Livestock Forage Program, totaling more than $9.7 Million.

Mortimer says her farm took advantage of the resources and is glad Mother Nature turned from a foe, to a friend, for now.

"You just never know what's around the next corner," she said. "You just got to prepare, do the best we can do with what we have today, and just know we have to be diverse and have to be limber enough to change our plans next year if we need to."