Kevin Torres from 9 News came to Kutch, Colorado, to visit with me yesterday about the drought and the importance of keeping young producers on the land. While I appreciate Torres’ piece and believe it hit the nail on the head with its intended point for Denver viewers- it’s dry and it matters to you because your food prices will go up and we all need to heed the health of Colorado’s $20 billion ag industry- there are perhaps a few points of clarification yet to be made.

My phone rang yesterday and Torres asked whether we had received any snow from the last storm and if it was enough to end the drought. I would be one of many farmers and ranchers who would be tickled pink with a week of rain but the bottom line is that, while it may bring us closer to our average precipitation levels, the grass isn’t going to be lush a few days after a good rain. Many pastures are grazed and blown into the dirt and the grasses will take years to recover and be the beneficial short grass prairie we typically see in this area. It will take continued responsible grazing and stocking rates and good management decisions from the producers already kept up at night by the gravity of the decisions before them. 9news<

The Drop Dead Date that Torres referred to

is inching closer for many families in this area. When I read an earlier blog to my students that referenced June 1 as a date by which to receive significant moisture in order to not be forced to sell cows, sell land, or move the operation, all of my freshmen student knew their family's "date". The small schools and communities can not bear the weight of more regulations nor can they bear the loss of families and businesses. This drought is no longer just about the survival of cattle and crops but is about the survival of small communities.

Keeping young people on the land must be a prioirity, especially as my generation takes the reins of various operations. It is exceptionally difficult for young operators to gather enough capital to operate, grow, and survive tough times. While this is not a group to take government handouts, we must carefully weigh how our legislation, regulations, and ballots are affecting them. Higher energy rates, lenders who are hesitant or unwilling to loan money to young, rural families, and the annual slew of mandates only further cripple efforts.

This is one of a million reasons young people need to be involved in local, state, and national politics and organizations that speak for agriculture.

Even the best elected official can not legislate or inspire rain but we have to help them understand what it feels like hauling cows to the sale every Monday and waiting for rain.