USDA designates Yakima County as primary natural disaster area

WHITE SWAN, Wash. -- Sharleen and Jim Hubbard raise beef cattle. This year's business has been tough. They struggle to have enough natural food for the cows to graze on.

"Usually you'd hate the thistle that was growing. They can't hardly grow. Thistles should be up to here by now and it's not. Out biggest thistle plants are about like this," said Sharleen Hubbard.

The Hubbards usually have 150 cattle on 300 acres of grazing land. But right now, only about 20 acres have grass. Watering it hasn't done much.

"There is nothing left growing. And I don't expect anything to grow even if we had significant rain fall over the next few weeks it would take so long for everything to recover," said Sharleen.

They're not the only ranchers struggling. A handful have come to the local Farm Service Agency seeking help. Drought conditions prompted the USDA to designate Yakima County a primary natural disaster area.

This helps farmers qualify for low-interest emergency loans. The Yakima County FSA is also offering a month's worth of feed.

"Even just a month of not feeding will help because that's about five thousand dollars," said Sharleen.

But it will be a struggle for the Hubbards. They say their cattle usually feed on pasture grass until November. This year they had to start feeding them hay in July.

"It's discouraging. We wanted a beautiful green field out here with grass to our cow's knees is what we were envisioning and it just isn't coming about," said Sharleen.

They hope to keep their same herd and look ahead to next season.