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‘Completely foreign to us’: Iron Range farmer fears drought conditions

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HIBBING, MN-- A glimmer of hope for farmers came Monday when rain poured for the first time in nearly two weeks.

Jason Helstrom, a fifth-generation owner of Helstrom Farms says, "Well it's going to help, it just may be too little too late, I guess we'll find out."

The dry conditions have left Helstrom's pasture of more than 200 cattle hungry.

"We have the mother cows, they have their babies, raise them to a certain point and then just depending on the cattle markets we figure out the most profitable way to sell them," said Helstrom.

The drought has brought brown grass and a shortage of hay crops.

It has left the Minnesota Department of Agriculture experts concerned.

"They're having to make tough decisions whether to sell or cull some of their cattle," said Thom Petersen the Department of Agriculture Commissioner.

Helstrom adds those decisions could be in his future too.

In a typical summer, he said Northland farmers deal with too much rain and moisture.

"It's something we're just not used to," Helstrom says. "I think if you head west of here, in the Dakotas, they kind of know what to do in a drought situation. This is completely foreign to us."

If drought conditions continue next year, agriculture experts say Northland farmers could have more reason to worry.

"This is something that could be very damaging, and that's something we've been talking about as an agency. We need to build that moisture back in the soil," adds Petersen.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has drought resources for farmers for more information, click here.

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Emma Quinn

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