San Luis Obispo County

Rain Gives Herds, Ranchers Something to Chew On

Dry, brown grazing fields covered with green grasses.

NIPOMO, Calif. - Nature has delivered badly needed relief for local cattle ranchers and cattle growers.

The hills are alive again due to the recent rains.

There really is nothing like the green, green grass of home for Central Coast cattle ranchers, especially during a drought.

"Extremely grateful", says Nipomo cattle grower Robert Williams, "been waiting for it for three months, finally came."

Williams has been growing cattle on his family spread along Highway 166 in the Nipomo foothills for more than 50 years.

He says this is the most severe drought he's seen.

"I've never seen the feed as short as it is this year, no carry over feed", Williams says.

The recent rains have turned brown, barren and dry grazing fields lush green with native grasses for the hungry herds to feed on.

"It's the cheapest sort of roughage we have", Williams says, "this was just planted a week ago and you can see how its come up right here."

They are the best of times and the worst of times for local cattle ranchers.

Many have been forced to sell their animals, unable to afford expensive feed amid the ongoing drought.

For those who can stick it out the price per head has never been higher amid growing demand for American beef and the smallest national herd in 50 years.

"We've got the highest market we've ever seen", Williams says, "its extremely good for everybody and I'm glad i lived to see it."

Williams says more rain could make a really big difference for the local cattle business this year.

"This is extremely good cattle country", Williams says, "we get the timely rains it makes a big difference for us, its still not too late, we get a few more rains and we possibly could have a good year."

Experts say rising demand for American beef amid the short supply is expected to send beef prices higher.




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