SUNRAY, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As our drought continues, some farmers are cutting back on more expensive input costs and even working to bring in other sources of revenue.
For Rick Rousser who lives in Sunray, it’s about having a fallback to augment his income, in the event crop yields are lower.
Rousser has farmed in the area for decades. Like many farmers, he has purchased land in neighboring counties where there is more water.
“The input costs, they have just skyrocketed and so the main thing is to make your crop in a drought,” said Rousser. “And so I’m blessed with having irrigation, so we have decent water here.”
This year, he is also cutting back on crop size by 10-15% to save money, while growing corn and cotton.
“But yet the cotton is more drought, and will take the heat and less water and so you kind of get, you balance the two out between the corn and the cotton so that you can produce your crop with what water you have,” he continued. “The fertilizer cost is, is tripled or quadrupled from last year. So we just have to be sure we get it all down and get the best bang out of the buck. I guess you’d say.”
He said last year, his wheat crop did not produce well, and neither did some of his dryland milo, but it served another purpose.
With 150 head of black Angus cattle, Rousser has a backup plan and another use for his crops in case they don’t fare well.
“Now in these drought years, we’re able to use the hay that we have leftover when our grasses are not there, then we have the hay backing it up,” Rousser added. “So we just, you know, use the bad crops to make the cattle perform during these bad times.”
Rousser said that helps him avoid taking losses overall.
“You get your money out of some part of that, either through cattle, or through the sale of grain, or through the sale of hay.”
He said it’s hard work, but worth it. Plus, with higher commodity prices, he’s hopeful.
“Seeing your livestock grow and seeing the crops grow and things like that. At the end of the year, if you’re blessed to have good crops, then you’ll make a little money,” said Rousser. “Well, it just seems like it’s all worth it and that’s why you’re out here, but it’s a real enjoyable life.”
When asked what it means to him to feed and clothe people, Rousser said, “It is a lot of pride in that, knowing that you are doing something good, that your time is valuable. And, you know, it’s a good deal to to be able to feed the masses or feed the people because, you know, that’s the small amount of enjoyment, it leads you to you know, you’re doing a job that is appreciated.”