Drought Watch: Windthorst Dairy Farmers Losing Business

The lack of rain in Texoma is forcing some workers in one industry to call it quits. Dairy farmers have suffered significant loss of business and the number of dairy farms in operation is disappearing quickly.

Just 15 years ago, the Windthorst/Scotland area had over 90 dairies in business. But the lack of substantial rain has left only 38 in operation as of this year. Leo Hoff Jr. has been a dairy farmer in Windthorst for his entire life and has seen his business suffer for the last few years.

"You gotta have water for the cattle. We use a lot of it for cleaning the equipment and other things. It takes a lot of water to run a dairy farm and if you ain't got water, you can't function" said Hoff.

Hoff's farm grounds have dried up, leaving barely any grass for his cows to eat.

"Grass hasn't grown at all like it should and therefore we've had to feed a lot more hay and grain. That all takes away from the bottom line, it cuts into our cost and hurts more than anything" he said.

Some dairy farmers like Hoff are trying to survive while many have decided to call it quits. Hoff even helped a fellow farmer sell his cows as recently as Tuesday because he was leaving the industry.

"It's hard to see anybody have to get out. Most of them, they don't want to get out but it's just a decision that they have to make. A lot of people think about it around here every day if they should go ahead and get out or what they should do" said Hoff.

Hoff has cut back on his employees and drilled multiple wells to try and provide water for his farm. He also pointed out that fluctuating milk prices and higher fuel costs also add to the stress of the business. Despite all the hardships, Hoff loves his job and is going to try and keep pushing forward.

"You gotta like it to do this job. I hope we get good rain so we can get some winter wheat grazing" he said.

The dairy farm industry has proven to be tough because milk is a perishable product. Some dairy farmers have even picked up other jobs like hay hauling, custom farming and even selling insurance to help supplement their income.

Cynthia Kobayashi, Newschannel Six.