Worried farmers ‘humbled’ as St. George sets record dry spell

Southern Utah

WASHINGTON COUNTY (ABC4 News) – A new record has been broken in St. George, but local farmers and ranchers say it’s not one to be proud of. The National Weather Service says Wednesday marks the city’s longest dry spell in its history with 122 days without a measurable amount of rain.

ABC4’s Katie Karalis met with Kelby and Kathie Iverson, who operate the sixth-generation Western Legacy Farm & Ranch and say this year is one to remember.

“You know all of our forefathers have been resilient. We’re going to keep fighting. Water is our lifeblood,” said Kelby Iverson. “It used to always cloud up and rain in the summer, and this year it didn’t cloud up and rain once.”

The Iverson’s say four months without rain means no feed for their 120 cattle and no growth for their crops. Around this time of year, ranchers typically bring their livestock off their mountain pastures and into the desert for the winter.

“Luckily, we’ve left some dry feed out on the desert that those cattle will be able to feed on,” they said.

The parents of six said the record-breaking moisture and heavy snowpack this past winter and spring has carried them through, but with no new growth, they said don’t know how long they’ll be able to feed their cows if it doesn’t rain.

“We’re wondering what the best decision to make is for planting crops and keeping cattle. This will be a year that we could definitely cut some cows out that aren’t pregnant,” said Kelby.

“The byproducts of cattle affect everybody and go into everyday things like makeup, gum, and glue,” Kathie added. “When you sit down at every meal, you can trace it back to a farm, whether it’s the ranchers or the farmers. If you look at it that way, we all should be praying for rain because it’s so very important.”

While the soil remains extremely dry, officials from the Washington County Water Conservancy District said the county’s water supply remains in good shape, adding that most of the area’s reservoirs remain very full.

“This drought just highlights the need for a redundant water supply,” WCWCD general manager Ron Thompson said. “It’s critical for our economy and it’s critical for our children and grandchildren.”

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