Drought monitor puts S. Wisconsin in ‘extreme’ drought

Wednesday's rain not reflected in estimate
Drought monitor puts S. Wisconsin in ‘extreme’ drought

Despite Wednesday’s storms, conditions are still abnormally dry, and Gov. Scott Walker is declaring a state of emergency in all 72 Wisconsin counties.

He’s planning to tour the worst hit areas Friday.

Dane County, along with most of southern Wisconsin, is in a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Its author expects conditions will only get worse.

Inside Dane County’s fair, news of David Schuster’s daughter’s prize-winning steer spreads quickly. What’s happening outside, though, is dominating conversations.

“The first thing everybody talks about is just how dry it really is and how bad we need the rain,” said Schuster, who’s been farming his whole life.

His own 100-head of cows aren’t producing as much milk, while the corn Schuster grows to feed them is nearly devastated. 

“If you don’t have your feed, where are you going to get it and everything, the prices are all going up big time and it’s like your only options are to buy or sell something,” said Schuster.

This year’s drought puts Schuster in a tough spot. Climatologist Mark Svoboda is trying to help.

“We’re getting hundreds of requests right now to address the drought and the impacts on people, that’s the bad part,” said Svoboda.

Thirteen years ago, Svoboda invented the drought monitor.

Speaking via Skype from his University of Nebraska-Lincoln office, Svoboda can’t classify this year’s drought – yet.

“It’s not like the multi-year drought of the ’50s that we saw, at least not at this point. You can’t really rank them until they’re over and unfortunately, this one is far from being over,” said Svoboda.

As for David Schuster, he says he’ll survive. But a little bit of help wouldn’t hurt.

Drought monitor puts S. Wisconsin in “extreme” drought

“Any assistance from anywhere will be greatly appreciated because it’s going to cost a lot of money to stay in farming, is what it boils down to,” said Schuster.

On Wednesday, officials and the state’s Emergency Board talked about applying to the federal government for drought assistance, as well as what options Wisconsin has to help farmers.

As for the Drought Monitor, click here to see it –