Dairy Farmer Says Drought Could Spell End To Production - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/31/06-Hopkins County

Dairy Farmer Says Drought Could Spell End To Production

In Hopkins County around Sulphur Springs, the drought's threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of families.  For them, the drought is more than three years along.

Since the end of 2002, Sulphur Springs is short more than 55 inches of rain -- a drought not seen since the mid-1950s.

"It's going to be tough. We're blessed to have a good bank standing behind us," says Steve Calavan, a dairy farmer who says the weather's not doing its part.

Driving into Hopkins County, the land is brown and the cows were huddled for shade.

"There's nothing. Just dirt. I'd hate to see this all go. We've got a lot of years invested in it," Calavan says of his farm.   The drought hasn't just depleted the tanks but wells too. His cows now drink lake water, and that's running low as well.

Home-grown hay was just a third of normal this year, and alfalfa is being trucked in from the Midwest, for a high price.

"We're still believing that we'll get a good rain, and there's still time to get a good rain and for the grass to come back."

Looking To Above

"We're just praying that God will send us a deluge of rain," says Pastor Larry Jordan of New Beginnings Fellowship Baptist Church. 

He says the drought has brought Hopkins County together.

"We just met and prayed from 12 Noon to one o'clock and just cried out to God for rain."

Prayer meetings were held on Tuesday and Sunday for a crisis that has been a test.

"He's teaching us that we need to be patient," Jordan says.

Time Is Running Out

Calavan prepares his herd for production of milk that is down in the intense heat. He says he's got to have abundance from above.

"There's no way I could make it if it went another year like this. I don't know many who could. The majority of Hopkins County would probably be wiped out as far as cattle," he says.

From farmers to those who cut the hay, haul the feed, and process the milk, the economy of towns like Sulphur Springs depends in large part on this work.   But without rain, Calavan tells us, there may be just no choice.

"The majority of us would just have to give up," he adds.

And that would change the entire landscape for a long time. To make the impact even more clear, Hopkins County is the second highest milk-producing county in Texas churning out more than 50 million pounds of milk products a month.

Reported by Morgan Palmer, morganpalmer@kltv.com.

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