How bad is it? Well, the 2012 drought is now being compared to the 1930's when year after year of hot, dry weather affected most of the country. During those "Dust Bowl" years, from Colorado to Kansas, into Oklahoma and Texas, farmers who already made as little as $145 a year were unable to grow any crops. For many there was nothing left to do but move, leaving behind their farms. That's what happened to my Mom's family. Her Aunts and Uncles were forced to make the decision to move to California for a chance to start over with better wages and rain, precious rain. Mom's parents stayed and withstood years of failed crops before things got better. Coupled with the Depression it was and understatement to say, "Times were hard."
According to a Weather Channel report, the 2012 drought affects nearly 61% of the country and ranks among the 10 largest droughts that we've seen in the past century. In Arkansas farmers are feeding their livestock hay that's earmarked for winter since there's no longer grass in the pastures. For many, the writing on the wall is too plain... they've had to sell off their cattle and hogs. With grain up 35%, there is little profit to be made on an already depressed market. One of the things that I can remember my Grandma doing everyday was write the weather down on the calendar. She would write the temps and whether the day was sunny or rainy, breezy or still, sultry or frigid. I always thought it was because it filled the day with purpose. Now I realize it was because they suffered through the Dust Bowl. She and Grandpa no doubt had a fear of hard times returning.
So why do farmers stay farmers? It's not like it's a glamorous job. The hours are long and we already know paydays are not that great.
It has to be a love of the land, pure and simple.
Learned from childhood, deep inside.
Along the way, the paybacks come... just not always on a check!