Drought in the Grand Valley

Mattie Baker, Journalist

Years of Colorado’s hot and dry drought conditions have finally taken its toll on the farms and ranches of the Grand Valley. Current residents may be concerned about losing their lawns to the heat and water restrictions, but what about the farms and ranches? Farmers and ranchers whose life depends on the well being of their crops and livestock have severely faced the effects of limited water and drought.

Last winter was extremely dry as the Grand Valley received fifty percent less precipitation than average, which limited the amount of vegetation that came up in the spring. This being said, the ranchers took a hit as they were forced to buy feed for their livestock before they could move them up to the mountains where there was more vegetation for them to eat. Plus, last spring was also unusually dry and warm causing some ranchers, especially sheep ranchers to lose livestock to the heat before they could get them up to the mountain where it was cooler.

Farmers were also affected by the drought as they found that the extreme heat and lack of water severely reduced their yield. Between the lower yield and higher diesel prices to run tractors, farmers were forced to raise their prices to their consumers in order to make it through this year. These higher prices among crops, specifically feed will only end up harming ranchers further as they will need to buy feed once again to care for their livestock through this winter. As a result of this, many ranchers are being forced to dump their livestock in order to be able to afford enough feed. Plus, as always when feed prices are up, livestock prices are down causing ranchers to only suffer more as they sell their livestock for extremely low prices. So, unless the Grand Valley receives a significant amount of moisture this winter, the water will continue to rapidly disappear and the drought will only worsen causing people to lose their farms and ranches.