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Jason Schmidt

Farmers ‘Limping Along’ as Drought Ravages Midwest

Fifth-generation dairy farmer Jason Schmidt says he is a big believer in grazing. And for decades, the sheep, beef and dairy livestock raised on his family farm in Newton, Kansas grazed on homegrown alfalfa and hay; however with a drought ravaging the Midwest, Schmidt says he is forced to pay nearly double to produce the hay needed to feed his animals.Like many small farmers, Schmidt selectively opts for crop insurance, but has chosen not to insure his pasture grounds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency has policies available for more than 100 crops, which vary in pricing based on past revenues, yields and locations. Policies are optional to purchase and cover a certain percentage of crops-per-acre, per-year.“Maybe I will learn in subsequent years, but it’s expensive,” he said of the USDA–sponsored insurance. “With our dairy cattle we will probably break even this year, and hopefully not going into the red too much. I hope we can limp along.”The future of Schmi...

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