High Plains Ranchers Need a Drought Plan

Dec 1, 2015

Credit Cynthia Mendoza / USDA photo

Last week Beef magazine published a warning for ranchers: If you don’t have a drought plan, get one.

Brian Bledsoe, a Colorado Springs meteorologist, gave his 2016 weather forecast to more than 700 cattle producers. “This blessing of moisture we’ve had over the High Plains . . . is not going to last,” he said. Bledsoe believes the El Niño will peak in the next month or so. After that, he says the moistures will diminish in intensity and go back the other way.

Ranchers should be diligent about deciding how they use moisture in the short term. For ranchers in the High Plains and western U.S., drought is simply a fact of life. Dry spells occur almost every year. In fact, the western High Plains experiences drought about 75% of the time. Bledsoe says if ranchers don’t currently have a drought plan, they stand to lose a lot of money.