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The drought in Florida is having an impact on cattle ranchers, farmers

Posted: 10:15 AM, Apr 26, 2017
Updated: 2017-04-26 14:15:24Z

(WBBH, NBC NEWSCHANNEL) Dry conditions in Florida are changing prices of some produce and meat in Florida grocery stores. 

Because grass is drying up cattle farmers are spending money to feed their cattle in other ways. They are left trying to make-up with supplemental food. 

"A significant amount of cow-calf operations are absolutely grass-dependent... in some cases even 100 percent grass dependent," said Dr. Roy Beckford with UF IFAS Lee County.

"We're definitely having to bring in more this season than normal to make sure our cows stay the way that they need to and are doing well and are thriving," said Harley Leavens of North Fort Myers.

"Say a cow weighing 900 pounds may need north of 50 to 70 pounds of forage in order to sustain its normal natural system," Dr. Beckford said. 

Lee County is primarily a cow-calf operation--- which means cattle are raised and then sold for beef. 

"The gains are gonna be diminished or the prices are gonna have to increase,” Dr. Beckford said.

While beef prices could go up some tomato farmers in Florida say conditions are ideal for growing crops.

"I have not had anyone report a surplus of tomatoes I think a couple people have told me this season has been good,” Dr. Beckford said.

In some cases--- too good. Pushing prices for tomatoes down.

And consumers are taking note.

"I feel like they were about $3.49 and in some cases even $3.99 and I do see now they're averaging between $2.49 and $2.69 per pound,” said Alicia Graham of North Fort Myers.

While some ranchers are holding out hope for more rain, tomato farmers believe this season has gone just right.