Midwest rancher recovers from drought

Freshly baled hay will feed Ken Lenox's cattle for a few months. This Missouri rancher's concerns have eased for now.

After a long, dry summer, farmers in the Midwest have caught a break with some rain.

Ken Lenox is a fifth-generation cattle rancher in Rolla, Mo. Typically the grasslands on his ranch feed his 450 cattle throughout the spring, summer and fall. But with this year's drought, Lenox had to buy hay to feed them. Sinking money into hay this early in the year -- even finding enough hay to feed his cattle -- made Lenox worry about a tough winter ahead.

But Hurricane Isaac brought several inches of rain back in late August, and the past month has brought more. Lenox says the grass is practically jumping out of the ground, and he's out the woods, for now. "I feel a lot better," says Lenox. "The grass that has grown will not get me as far into the wintertime than it normally would, but it'll take me a lot farther than I thought it would a month ago.  We're in so much better shape."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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