Thirsting For Food: Why Droughts Aren’t Just A Farmer’s Problem

Whether you are entrenched in the agricultural industry or simply like its ability to put food on your table, droughts can have a significant impact on your everyday life. Whether half a state or half a country away, a lack of rainfall doesn’t just affect the health of crops; it affects food prices, the rivers that make electricity, drinking water quality, public safety, and wildlife. It can mean uncontrollable wildfires and soil erosion.

For those of us in the ag sector, drought’s effects are much more devastating.

When the Southeast suffered a severe drought in 2007 (and 2008 and 2009), we had over $1.3 billion in crop loss. That’s $1.3 billion of major cash loss from corn, wheat, cotton, hay, and soybeans. States enacted drastic water-saving measures to preserve what they could, but in the end, it didn’t matter how many fewer glasses of water you served at restaurants or how many pools couldn’t be filled. It’s all sunny, carefree, non-muggy days until you don’t have anything to eat or it’s become too expensive to share.

Perhaps the hardest part about droughts, particularly long-lasting, severe ones, is how helpless you feel. Prayers can’t make it rain (we wouldn’t be writing this if they did), and irrigation and ground water only go so far. Even if we had the concern and sympathy of our far-reaching customers, they are too far removed from the way their food and cotton is grown. They feel it in their wallets and the lack of good product selection. We feel it in our backs, our hearts, our families, our ever-worried minds, and our wallets, too. Because irrigation isn’t cheap and we have more mouths to feed than most when you count all the animals that depend on us for proper care.

While it is true that droughts aren’t just a farmer’s problem, they are a big problem for farmers. We can nourish our soil, guard against erosion, save hay, and cross our fingers, but that’s about as much as we can do. We’re not writing this to ask for solutions or sympathy on behalf of America’s finest workforce; we’re writing this to say we understand the sacrifices and the importance of serving America’s food chain. When the American farmer dries up, the rest of us aren’t far behind.

We just want you to know we are with you, rain or shine.