Jamie Hansen, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
For years, ranchers listed 1976 and 1977 as the worst drought conditions in memory. Now, with no rainfall in nearly a month and forecasts calling for dry conditions to continue, many are worried that 2014 could be even worse.
“It’s pretty dire out there,” said Tim Tesconi, interim manager of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Some livestock ranchers’ ponds and reservoirs are drying up, especially in the Two Rock and Chileno Valley areas outside Petaluma, forcing them to truck in water at great cost. Ranchers around the county are having to buy hay much earlier than usual because grass is not growing. The added expenses are causing some to start culling the weaker animals from their herds.
“There are farmers who can’t pay their bills,” said Larry Peter, who works with many dairies as owner of Petaluma Creamery and Spring Hill Jersey Cheese.