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N.C. farmers hope for rain as drought threatens cattle industry

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WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- About three-fourths of North Carolina is in some form of drought, and the situation is especially serious for cattle farmers in the western part of the state.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler went to the mountains this week to meet with farmers hurt by ongoing drought conditions. Dry weather is posing a threat to North Carolina's $250 million cattle industry and hay production.

Particularly vulnerable to the drought are cattle, because winter feedings depend on summer hay yields. The state is home to up to 900,000 cattle, and one cow can eat 3,000 pounds of hay over the four winter months.

Haywood County cattle farmer Tony McGaha says he's nowhere close to where he should be in terms of hay production. He says some farmers will produce no hay. Another cattle farmer says he's seen worse situations than this and is hoping for summer rains to ease the problem.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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