Drought Emergency Declared

The dry weather is starting to suck up hope of a plentiful harvest this year.

While farmers remain optimistic, some are starting to fear the worst.

"I put in no-till corn out here after we took first crop hay," says farmer Dan Kelly as he points to a portion of his crops, "If we had the normal rainfall that corn would be waist high and as you can see that is curled up to the max."

Kelly was born on his Deerfield farm. He has spent his life keeping the crops strong. But now it's out of his hands.

"If we got an inch of rain a week we'd be fine right through harvest time," he says, "But everyday it's put off, our yields for everything will go down."

Already there are cracks in the soil and brown curling leaves.

That scenario has led Governor Doyle to declare an emergency. He says, "Agriculture is the backbone of Wisconsin's economy... accounting for 1 in 5 jobs. We will do everything we can to help our farmers get through this drought emergency."

That includes allowing farmers to access water for irrigation.

"If farmers are within a reasonable distance of surface water they do have the potential to irrigate their fields," says Dane County Crops and Soil Agent, David Fischer.

In response Kelly says, "I guess we could utilize it if we had the equipment and the means to do it, but as we are right now we're not set up for it."

Instead, he's keeping his eyes on the skies.

"I'm worried," says Kelly, "I was thinking maybe we'd have a 200 bushel yield corn again and now I'm hoping for 100 bushel, and that would get us through."

If you would like to request a temporary irrigation permit, contact the nearest Department of Natural Resources office.

Under the executive order, officials are required to conduct a field inspection of the water proposed for diversion within 3 days of the request.

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