California drought-misfortune could be good news for AZ farmers - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

California drought-misfortune could be good news for AZ farmers

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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

Arizona is a week shy of going two months without measurable rain. Even still, our better irrigation system means we have a larger stockpile of water during times of drought, compared to our neighbors in California. And Arizona farmers stand to benefit.

"We're in a drought as well, however, we're in a little better shape than they are right now," said Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers. He says just look to alfalfa and hay ... crops that go hand in hand with cattle.

"The alfalfa is used as one of the major feeds for the dairy, for the livestock folks," Rogers added.

But according to the University of California cooperative extension "many thousands of dollars spent for seed and field preparation have been lost ... causing livestock producers and horse owners to purchase hay that would normally not be needed over the fall and winter period."

"They're [California feed growers] going to get it wherever it comes from and fortunately we're going to continue to have enough water here to grow our normal supply it sounds like," Rogers said.

Mesa alfalfa grower Mark Freeman says the demand for feed is high.

"With our hot, dry conditions we're able to get extra cuttings now," Freeman said.

He went on to say that the California alfalfa and hay brokers know it.

"A lot of hay brokers come over from that area," Freeman said. "They're willing to pay higher for the hay to get it over to feed their dairies."

Curious how integral alfalfa and hay are to the Arizona economy? In 2011, the USDA says our state made nearly a billion dollars in hay and alfalfa sales, making it by far the biggest crop Arizona produces.

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