BALDWIN CITY, Kan. - The owner of C.L.O’s Midnight Farm in Baldwin City, Kan., says feed and hay prices has risen so much because of this summer's drought that they may have to cut back on critical horse therapy classes that help kids with severe disabilities.
The kids in Colleen Baker’s summer camp learn to walk, trot and guide their horses through various obstacles. The class helps kids living with disabilities to be confident, gain strength and socialize with the animals.
Nakita Jacobs, 12, say when she is around her horse of choice, Koko, she doesn’t feel so different.
“If I’m relaxed, she walks faster or slower. If I don’t relax, she senses my nervousness,” she said.
Midnight Farm helps about 400 kids and adults a year, some from as far as Blue Springs and Lawrence. But Baker says keeping a program like this running, is getting expensive.
The cost of hay and grain has doubled since spring. Even worse, the Kansas Department of Agriculture expects that amount to triple by the end of August.
"It's not something that we budgeted for. When I budgeted last October, I didn't know we'd have a drought this year,” Baker said.
On Thursday, The USDA released a map that shows the severity of drought in the county. Much of Kansas is listed as being in “extreme drought”, with Western Kansas considered in “exceptional drought.”
The state of Missouri is also considered to be in “extreme drought,” with the bootheel in the “exceptional drought” range. According to the map, one-fifth of the country is in “exceptional drought.”
Baker said that without help from donors, Midnight Farms may have to cut back on classes, because charging more for programs isn’t an option.
"We haven't turned down anyone yet and it's something we don't want to do, but we have bills to pay too," Baker said.
Many Kansas horse ranches tell 41 Action News that they are still hurting from last year’s severe drought in Texas and New Mexico. Then hay prices reached record levels last year, keeping them from stocking up through the winter.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture estimates this drought will cost businesses across the state millions of dollars.
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