VIDEO REPORT: Governor Walker Tours Drought-Stricken Farms

UPDATED Friday, July 20, 2012--5:30p.m.
DODGEVILLE--We know that the scorching sun and little rain is making it hard for grain farmers to produce the kind of crops they want. But this summer's drought is also going to hit the wallets of Wisconsin's dairy farmers: "We're looking at expenses of a thousand dollars a cow and upwards," said Dairy Farmer Kyle Levetzow.
He has 300 cows, but also farms about a thousand acres.
"We have corn, soybeans and alfalfa," he said. "Mostly corn and alfalfa for the dairy herd. Usually in a normal year we would have a little bit of corn to sell and some soybeans to sell and this year we're looking at buying a lot of our feed, the drought has really stressed out the crops."

He normally uses those crops to feed his herd. But this year, he'll have to fork out around $300,000 to instead purchase food for the animals. "It's going to have a greater effect on the dairy economy than it will on grain farmers," he said. "Because.....I have crop insurance, it's going to cover my input costs that I spent to put these crops in the ground, but it's not going to cover the cost of what I'm going to have to physically buy feed for the cows now this fall and my insurance is not going to cover that."

Today Levetzow is sharing his plight with the governor, who's stopping by a couple of farms to check out crop damage. Gov. Walker's also meeting with legislative leaders and farming officials this afternoon to look at ways to help the state's farmers. "Agriculture represents about a $60 billion impact in the state's economy," said Gov. Walker. "And as I mentioned before and just as important if not more so is it's a way of life, not only for those who farm but for a lot of our rural communities. We want to make sure we're doing everything we can."

And it's not just the farmers that will feel the pinch as a result of this drought--Levetzow predicts that you'll start seeing higher prices at the store within the next few months."It's going to be a nationwide shortage of corn and it's going to trickle down to milk and the beef and even into the hogs and poultry business," he said.

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UPDATED Friday, July 20, 2012 --- 3:10 p.m.

BURLINGTON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says after meeting with farmers in Burlington and Dodgeville who are suffering from the state's ongoing drought that he's looking at every way possible to locate assistance.

Walker got a 1,000-foot view of drought damage during an aerial tour in a Blackhawk helicopter of some of the most hard-hit areas in southern Wisconsin Friday.

Walker notes that from the air the cropland that is normally green is instead full of light yellow, tan and brown spots where the hot and dry conditions have taken hold.

Dairy farmer Kyle Levetzow of Dodgeville says he doesn't know how he's going to feed his 300 cows or how much it will cost. His alfalfa field that's normally 2-feet high by now is only inches tall.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, July 20, 2012 --- 6:50 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker and three of his cabinet secretaries plan to tour a couple drought-stricken farms in southern Wisconsin on Friday.

Walker will be joined by Ben Brancel, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Cathy Stepp, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, and Ted Nickel, secretary of the Department of Insurance.

Walker plans to view drought damage from the air and also take ground tours of the farms in Burlington and Dodgeville.

The tour comes after Walker on Wednesday expanded a drought emergency declaration statewide. The U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday also upgraded the drought from severe to extreme across southern Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, July 19, 2012 --- 3:34 p.m.

Press Release from the Governor's Office:

Governor Walker Requests Federal Disaster Designation for 23 Counties Due to Drought

Madison—Governor Walker today requested a Federal Disaster Designation for 23 Wisconsin counties due to significant damages suffered from the ongoing drought conditions. Under the designation, Wisconsin farmers could apply for emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency.

"Agriculture is the backbone of Wisconsin's economy. The extreme drought conditions across much of the state had a major effect on our farming community," said Gov. Walker. "The recent rainfall in some areas is not nearly enough to make up for the weeks of dry weather combined with heat and humidity. We need to do everything we can to expedite the process.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor has identified the following counties as suffering extreme drought conditions affecting such crops as corn, alfalfa, soybeans along with grasses and pasture.

The counties named in the request are Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Lafayette, Marquette, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha.

With more hot and dry weather in the forecast, Governor Walker says more counties could be added to the request for a Federal Designation. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation in other counties throughout the state and request a designation as soon as they qualify to ensure Wisconsin farmers get the assistance they need.”

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UPDATED Thursday, July 19, 2012 --- 2:14 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker plans to tour drought-stricken parts of Wisconsin on Friday.

Walker plans to meet with legislative leaders, agency officials and others about the drought during the tour that will take him to a farm in Burlington and one in Dodgeville.

The tour comes after Walker on Wednesday expanded a drought emergency declaration statewide. The U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday also upgraded the drought from severe to extreme across southern Wisconsin.

Walker says the increase in wildfires because of the hot weather and lack of rain is adding to the risk of "major economic losses, especially in agriculture."

Walker has directed Wisconsin Emergency Management to coordinate state efforts in response to the drought. It also directs all state agencies to assist in the response and recovery.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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Posted Thursday, July 19, 2012 --- 9:55 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker plans to tour drought-stricken parts of Wisconsin on Friday.

Walker plans to meet with legislative leaders, agency officials and others about the drought during the tour in the southeast and southwest parts of the state.

The tour comes after Walker on Wednesday expanded a drought emergency declaration statewide. The U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday also upgraded the drought from severe to extreme across southern Wisconsin.

Walker says the increase in wildfires because of the hot weather and lack of rain is adding to the risk of "major economic losses, especially in agriculture."

Walker has directed Wisconsin Emergency Management to coordinate state efforts in response to the drought. It also directs all state agencies to assist in the response and recovery.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.


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