Grasshoppers Invade Nebraska

Christina Cooper with Skippy, kangaroo, now 6-months-old, rejected by mother, whose care Christina, a Louisiana wildlife center manager, has taken over, on The Early Show 072109 CBS

Neil Ostrand's cornfield is a wasteland.

The corn "would normally be over our head right now," says Ostrand.

The buzz of Nebraska is the most ravenous grasshopper invasion in more than 60 years. All of it, as CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara reports, spawned by the deepest drought since the 1930's.

"They can cause a lot of damage," says rancher Darby Line. "I just can't think of one thing that they do that does us any good."

A few thousand here, a few thousand there can quickly add up to a disaster. And what damage the drought hasn't done to Nebraska crop fields, the grasshoppers are happy to finish.

Crop dusters have only slowed the advancing grasshopper army. Many pilots are spraying pesticides onto pasture and cropland for the second and third time this summer.

"Everyday that we can fly we've been flying," says pilot Dahl Jungren. "You just get as much done as you can."

Even at best, Nebraska's drought is rated extreme.

"It's bad when you can see the cracks in the ground and the dam," says rancher Douglas Line. "It's been dry a long time."

Though many Nebraska farmers irrigate their crops, hundreds face having the water cut off.

Now, the song of the sale barn is a sad one. Ranchers are selling off cattle months earlier than usual, because pastures have dried up, and they can't afford to feed them.

Paul Schipporeit vaccinates calves. His only option is to sell at a loss.

"It doesn't seem fair, but that's the way it goes," says Schipporeit. "Other people have droughts.

"If you're tough enough and want to, I guess you'll survive."

For farmers and ranchers, whose life is a dance card full of frustration and
sometimes failure, the face of this disaster may cost the state more than a $1 billion before it's gone.
  • Jaime Holguin

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