STEUBEN, Wis. -- The state of Wisconsin is trying to help out farmers struggling through this summer's drought. That means doing something that hasn't been done in more than two decades.

Wisconsin is making more than 11,000 acres of state-owned land available for harvesting hay or animal grazing.

Click here to learn more about the opportunities.

It comes at a time when the price of hay is skyrocketing because of the prolonged drought.

"We need 100 large round bales (of hay) to make it through the winter comfortably," said Missy Heisz, of Steuben.
Heisz's family worries about being able to feed their family's herd of nearly 50 cattle.

"The price at the sale barn is twice what it was last year," she added.

However, the family is taking advantage of the opportunity to mow and bale hay for free from a parcel of state-owned land in southern Crawford County.

"It means a lot. We were pretty scared. We thought we were going to have to sell some cattle or do something different this year with purchasing hay," said Heisz.

Their plight is not unique. That's why the state decided to open up as much of its land as possible to help farmers.

"We've had a lot of interest since the news came out on Friday," said Dan Goltz, a DNR biologist based out of Boscobel.

Goltz says those who sign up can only cut their allotted area one time between now and the end of August. Also, they can not sell the hay.

"We're handling the inquires on a first-come, first-serve basis and we're trying to limit the amount to each farmer to about 20 acres," said Goltz.

Heisz says access to just a little bit of land will make a world of a difference.

"We're very grateful that we have the opportunity to cut some hay here and bale it and hopefully keep the cattle happy," she said.