2021 has been a difficult year for many ranches, with some of the driest conditions in generations. This drought has followed a winter of very little snow and a spring with very low levels of rainfall. The areas affected include the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, the Intermountain West and even the Northern Plains.
Some states are facing water cutbacks and drought emergencies have been declared. Large wildfires have spread in some of the most badly affected areas. Ranchers have suffered as a result and some were forced to sell off portions of their herds that they have worked hard over the years to build up. It may also be the case that they are made to sell at a much lower margin, just to stay in business.
According to the drought monitor, almost 90 percent of what is considered the West is in drought. In fact, these drought conditions have been affecting nearly half the land area of the lower 48 states.
Crop failures have resulted in a shortage of feed. In one instance, Mr Rice, a NorthDakotan rancher has said that his corn was unchoppable. He usually stores it as silage to feed his cattle later in the year, however that would not be the case this year. The corn was barely a few feet from the ground.
What exactly is a drought?
There are no exact parameters to define a drought, however, a period of unusually dry weather that continues on long enough to affect water supplies, farming, energy production and other activities. It is typical for a drought to follow a period of less-than-normal precipitation.
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