Drought impacting organic farmers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Drought impacting organic farmers


It's been a rough Summer for farmers in Wisconsin. Making it especially hard for organic farmers in our area who try to grow their crops without the help of chemicals.

Katrina Becker and her husband, Tony Schultz, own 150 acres of certified organic farmland, in the town of Athens in Marathon County.  

"We've been farming on our own for 7 years," said Becker.

Throughout the years,  Becker has been growing organic crops, meaning chemicals and fertilizers are not used to enhance their growth. This makes the crops more vulnerable to damage.  

"With organic farming, a lot of genetics aren't there as in the GMO crops so they are having a harder time with the whole drought," said Dan Marzu, an Agriculture Development Educator.

Having no genetics, means more labor, to nurture the plants.  

"You have to have more love for your plant so to speak," said
Marathon County Dairy Agent, Heather Schlesser.

Agriculture experts say the main concern now is location.

"The county itself has been really spotty. The Northwest side is doing great, the Southeast side is horrible," said Schlesser.

Becker says she's experienced some pretty harsh drought conditions, but this year she's been fortunate.  

"We've had several weeks without rain, but compared to the rest of the state, and many other organic and non-organic farmers, we feel incredibly fortunate," said Becker.

Lending a helping hand is what Becker feels is best for those suffering at this time.

"We're in a position to be helping others, not feeling like we're under a lot of stress," said Becker.  

"Get through this book and it's the end of the year, close this chapter," said Maruz.

One that all farmers organic or not, hope will bring some rain.

For a list of drought resources visit http://datcp.wi.gov/Farms/Drought_2012

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