Drought puts Wyoming in largest-ever natural disaster designation

Jul 16, 2012

The US Department of Agriculture has named more than 1,000 counties – about a third of all counties nationwide – to be natural disaster areas. The drought-driven designation is the largest the USDA has ever made.

In Wyoming, all but a small corner in the northwest part of the state is currently dry, with designations ranging from Abnormally Dry to Extreme Drought.  

Todd Even of the Farm Service Agency in Wyoming says that in some areas it’s estimated that more than fifty percent of range land or grass hay crop has been lost.

“On private land I know people have already used up a lot of their winter pasture, land that they would normally not graze until fall and winter, they’ve had to go on to this spring. And in some areas of the state I’ve heard that, where the grass didn’t even green up, basically what a lot of the cattle are eating is last year’s growth.”

There could be assistance through the Emergency Conservation Program, which is funded out of a federal pool, but it’s not yet clear whether funding will come through or how much might be given to Wyoming.