With every dry day we see on the Central Coast, farmers and cattle ranchers become less certain of their financial stability. The agriculture industry brings in $45 billion dollars a year to the state of California. To keep those profits up, state and federal departments said they're putting drought assistance at the fingertips of those who need it most.
On Wednesday we got an inside look at how that information is getting to cattle ranchers. Ninety percent of all grass pastures for cattle in Monterey County were a loss last year.
The USDA said only those who pay for disaster assistance were able to recoup some of the loss. But cattle ranchers said money from the feds doesn't mean the cows get fed.
"I mean there's no free money. Everything costs something," said cattleman Scott Violini.
We paid a visit Violini last month on his ranch along Highway 68. Violini is acutely aware of the kind of dedication it takes to run a successful business. He's a 4th generation Monterey County livestock producer. When it costs more for him to feed his cattle, he starts looking at what he can sell. Now he's sifting through the facts at an informational session at the Monterey County agricultural center for producers like himself.
"Hay is roughly between 250 to 300 dollars a ton. If there's some channels where we can recoup some of that cost, maybe not for me. But the information is out there, then I’d like to see what's its all about," Violini said.
We spoke with several other cattleman from the Lockwood area who said the lack of rain has been devastating and now they're just trying to figure out how to survive. The USDA is putting out two new programs to help out with the lack of grass for cattle to graze on.
"Immediate water assistance if they need to install some structures to get water to their cattle," said USDA representative Vivian Soffa.
We asked a few people about the new farm bill, signed into law earlier this month. Cattle ranchers said they're still trying to figure out what it all means for them, because assistance has been promised.