Harrison County Extension Comes to the Aid of Drought Affected Cattle Producers and Corn Farmers

Clint McDonald, Harrison County Extension Education Director, Southwest

Problem Statement: 

This year the northern 60% of Harrison County was affected by a drought that had significantly reduced corn yields (either harvested or ensiled).  Harrison County Extension was asked to help evaluate the damage and develop a strategy to help affected cattle producers and farmers.  This request came from the local USDA Farm Service Administration (FSA) office and from local activists cattle producers.

Programmatic Response: 

Our first response was to scientifically evaluate the extent of the drought and develop a presentation to offer as proof to the USDA that Harrison County was in-deed in a significant drought.  This presentation was offered to local USDA officials and was used to make a recommendation to area law makers.

Secondly, Harrison County Extension developed a cattle feeding workshop which was presented to local cattle producers on the possibilities, and potential down falls, of feeding drought damaged corn.  Due to the nature of this problem and the small window of opportunity (i.e. before crop value was lost) this workshop was developed within a relatively small amount of time (one week).  Extension Livestock Field Specialists Darrel Busby and Daryl Strohbehn were asked to present information on feed value and nitrate concerns dealing with drought damaged corn.  In addition they presented information on alternative feedstuffs as well as economic parameters for feeding these alternate feed items.  Extension Crops Specialist, Kyle Jensen was asked to present information on harvesting and storing drought damaged corn.


Partly due to our drought analysis report, which was delivered to the local USDA personnel, Harrison County was named as a natural disaster area and local corn producers were offered support.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 20 Iowa counties primary natural disaster areas due to drought and other severe weather conditions that occurred Jan. 1, 2006, and continuing.  The decision makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).   Note:  The report developed by Harrison County Extension is available for viewing by calling 712-644-2105.

The emergency cattle meeting was attend by twelve cattle/corn producers.  Cattle producers learned the value of testing silage, or green chop, for nitrates and other important criteria to evaluate the potential use of alternative feedstuffs.  Corn producers also learned of the potential correlation between drought damaged corn and the development of aflatoxins.  Producers learned of the various management practices that can be used to minimize lose due to aflatoxins as well as the opportunity to use damaged corn as livestock feed.  All attending reported that workshop was well worth the time and that valuable information was learned that would benefit their individual operation.

September, 2006

104 - Agricultural Risk and Financial Management

Page last updated: September 13, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu