UTAH DROUGHT 2021

Southeast Idaho farmers struggle to seek drought help amid USDA firings

Sep 16, 2021, 7:01 PM | Updated: Sep 17, 2021, 9:59 am

MALAD, Idaho — Farmers in southeast Idaho are dealing with some of the worst crop yields they’ve ever seen. Area reservoirs have all but completely dried up, closing off the watering season several weeks early.

“For this area, (it’s) been dry for over a month and a half,” said farmer and rancher Tracy Davis. “The hay crops are way less, probably half of what they were last year, and the price of hay and feed has gone through the roof.”

Farmers like Davis can typically receive assistance through the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program, where they get help buying grass seeds that they plant in fields where cattle can later graze in, rather than having to buy expensive hay elsewhere. Davis was among the dozens who were in the midst of applying for that help when a shake-up at the area’s USDA Service Center happened.

The USDA Service Center in Malad, Idaho. (Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

“There are people in the office, but they’re not our local people that understand our operations, that understand what’s going on here in our community,” Davis explained.

Last week, two longtime Farm Service Agency, or FSA, staff members were escorted from the building. Temporary staffers are now there until new employees can be hired. Jay Hansen, a local FSA committee member says the two staffers were fired amid grievances filed against them and a pending investigation. Other than that, he says he’s in the dark.

“We want those two people back in our office again,” Hansen said. “This is all happening at a very crucial time. It caught us all by surprise that this happened when it did.”

Southeast Idaho farmer Tracy Davis says he’s in limbo following USDA terminations. (Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

Farmers, like Davis, are in limbo as they try and decide what to do with their cattle. Frustrations came to a head last week when more than 100 farmers gathered outside the USDA Service Center. Temporary employees shut down the office and an armed guard was brought in. The guard has continued to remain on duty inside the office.

About a couple dozen farmers gathered just down the street from the service center Thursday, in an effort to find answers. State Sen. Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs, was there. Harris said he’s been assured that farmer applications for help will be processed in time for the Sept. 30 deadline. He however does not agree with the extra security measures.

“The armed guard situation is very strange,” Harris said. “To me, as a producer, it’s an insult to have an armed guard at my FSA office.”

Farmers gathered to discuss options they have during the current drought. (Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

Harris said state FSA representatives did not provide him with any information on the recent firings, or pending investigation.

“This is a drought year. It’s a hard year for farmers and ranchers, and to lose two key people in this office, in this FSA office is a detriment to this community and this valley,” Harris said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Utah Drought 2021

The East Bench of Salt Lake City receives a dusting of snow the morning of May 9, 2022. (Jed Boal/K...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

Drought coordinator: Hold off on watering; consult the weekly lawn watering guide

The cool, wet spring Utah is having is exactly what the state needs in the midst of this historic drought. The wet weather won’t really make a dent in the drought, but it can help everyone save water, if we take advantage of it.
7 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Ogden mayor declares severe water shortage

Effective immediately, Mike Caldwell, Ogden City Mayor, has signed a declaration of severe water shortage. 
12 days ago
Weber State University has replaced grass and plants with xeriscaping at several areas of campus. (...
Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Weber State University saves 50 million gallons of water a year, more savings planned

Weber State University has cut water usage by about 30% thanks to an ambitious water conservation plan.
25 days ago
Chopper 5 shows just how much of the Great Salt Lake has evaporated. (KSL TV)...
Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News and Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Could Utah children help shape the destiny of the ailing Great Salt Lake?

To save the Great Salt Lake is to know its worth. To know its worth is to be educated about why it matters.
26 days ago
Satellite imagery of Sand Hallow taken June 2021. (Nearmap)...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Aerial imagery reveals the grim reality of ongoing drought in Utah

Aerial images provided by Nearmap, an aerial imagery company, show before and after photos of local reservoirs with receding shorelines: more evidence of the dire drought conditions that plague the state of Utah.
27 days ago
Sprinklers water a lawn in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 7, 2021. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issues his ...
Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV

Salt Lake City, County focus on water conservation as peak-demand season starts

Both Salt Lake City and County are focusing on water conservation as peak-demand season begins after a less-than-average winter snowpack and as drought conditions persist.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Southeast Idaho farmers struggle to seek drought help amid USDA firings