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Arkansas farmers face higher expenses during drought

Farmers find themselves pumping more water into fields to keep the crops alive amid dry conditions.

MAYFLOWER, Ark. — You may have noticed the lack of rain we've received in Arkansas during the heat wave. This drought has negatively impacted livestock and hay, but that's not all— farmers are also starting to feel the financial strain.

"It's just tough on everything," said Mayflower farmer Joe Thrash.

Thrash said caring for his rice fields takes more work when weather conditions are as dry as they have been. 

"It's a lot of late evenings we come out in the mornings, check our water, change our water, and a lot of times we come back right at dark and do it all over again," Thrash said.

He said he had to pump more water than usual into his rice fields since they're absorbing it faster than usual.

"That has been quite expensive for us, actually. I mean, we have high energy costs $5 diesel fuel. We don't know what our electric bills are gonna be. But we haven't got those in yet. But I'm sure they're not gonna be pleasant," he said.

Thrash isn't alone. Hunter Biram, a Crop Economist with the University of Arkansas, said most farmers in the state are dealing with the same struggles.

"I've heard that producers are pumping on the average probably around 25%, more than they normally would," Biram said.

Biram said higher diesel prices put them in a tough spot financially, too. 

"This time last year, we saw around three, three and a half dollars a gallon, whereas now it's like 460. So you got the increase in usage, increase in price, with increases in this amount being pumped," he said.

Thrash is hopeful that a good rain storm will come, but it'll take more than one to fix the problem. 

"Half an inch cools things off and it feels good. But you know, we need to three inches and then another two or three inches. You know, it's, it's gonna take a lot to break this dry socket," Thrash said.

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