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How Dry Is It? CSU Surveys Colorado Farmers and Ranchers About Drought Impacts

Drought in CO by Carlye Calvin courtesy UCAR.jpg
Carlye Calvin
University Center for Atmospheric Research

Despite this week’s snow in the mountains and eastern plains, 2012 will go down as one of Colorado’s driest years on record.

A group of agricultural economists at Colorado State University want to know how the drought is impacting the state’s farmers and ranchers. James Pritchett is an Extension Specialist in farm and ranch management at CSU, and is heading up the online survey called Telling the Story - Drought in Colorado.

You can find the agriculture survey right here. CSU is hoping at least 6,000 farmers and ranchers respond to the survey by Jan 1, 2013.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire state is suffering some form of drought -- ranging from moderate to exceptional.


Interview Highlights

On what they’re hoping to learn from the survey:

“We’re trying to understand who’s been affected the most by the drought... For some folks this was a real production sort of activity, where they reduced the amount of yields that they had, or maybe they couldn’t crop as many acres; or maybe they changed their crop from being a crop they planned to harvest for grain instead of harvesting for forage. So we want to understand a little bit about how they responded to that drought, and what that meant for that bottom line.”

On the ‘ripple effect’ that drought can have outside farms and ranches:

“Resiliency is really important to us. We want to understand how our farmers and ranchers will be impacted going forward. But also their rural communities - the communities they buy from, main street businesses - those folks will be affected too, because it’s the revenues that come to the farm or ranch that drive the purchases that come in the next season, and also promotes economic activity on the Main Street of those small towns.”

On how the survey could inform future agriculture legislation:

“As we discuss what the next iteration of the Farm bill might look like we want to understand a little about what sorts of targeted crop insurance make sense, and what commodities make sense, and at what levels of assistance do we need to make sure we can avoid the valleys that come with this type of weather event.”

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