With dry ponds and dead grass, Kansas and Missouri farmers feel nasty drought effects

COWGILL, Mo. -- A mild winter and excessive heat could result in this being one of the most damaging and destructive summers for area farmers.

Grass grows brown and water levels have fallen low in Cowgill, a small rural Missouri town about an hour northeast of Kansas City. John Bryant grew up on a farm passed down in the family for nearly 100 years.

"This is what it should look like in the middle of August or beginning of September. We still have two hard months of 100-degree plus weather to go through," Bryant said.

Through the years, Bryant's cattle have made it through a number of tough dry seasons. But he worries this summer is different.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures. Whenever your grass runs out and water runs out, you don’t have much else to do. I don’t see it getting much better here in the future," Bryant said.

The Bryant family was forced to sell their 100 head of cattle at a local auction.

"Seeing cattle you raised your entire life getting sold and bought by somebody else, it tore me up a little bit," he said.

John Bryant walks through his field in Cowgill, Missouri.

Like the Bryant family, many other families have had no choice but to sell their cattle. The day FOX4 visited, four neighboring farmers received checks in the mail after selling their livestock.

"There are several of them that have already sold out and a lot of other ones that, if it doesn’t get any better, will probably have to do the same thing," Bryant said.

He first started to worry about the grim forecast after watching FOX4 Chief Meteorologist Mike Thompson's report in June.

Tracy Streeter with the Kansas State Water Office said the current wheat crop is on track to be the smallest crop since 1989. The director said this will impact the livestock industry in a big way.

"As a result, you start seeing shorter grazing seasons and less cattle on pastures because you don't have enough water and you don't have enough grass for what you would normally put out there. You would need to take the cattle off sooner," Streeter said.

Bryant plans to purchase back some of his cattle as early as this spring. Like many other farmers, he's now turning to Mother Nature for some much needed relief from the heat.

You will likely notice the economic impact the next time you visit the grocery store. Experts expert meat prices to go down this fall because of all the cattle being sold. You will then likely notice prices spike by spring.