Latest AFBF Drought Survey Reveals Only Marginal Improvements

Many farmers and ranchers across the West continue to battle drought conditions, according to the fourth American Farm Bureau Federation drought survey. AFBF Economist Danny Munch says the surveys help assess the impact of drought on Western agriculture.

“We do it to kind of further quantify some of the ground level impacts that farmers and ranchers are experiencing. We distributed this survey to members across 16 states between October 19 and December 13. We got over 550 responses this time. There were three separate sections of the survey, crop specific factors, livestock specific factors and general water access.”

One of the big takeaways was 60 percent of respondents reported selling off a portion of their herd or flock, with total herd sizes expected to be down 33 percent.

“The last survey that we took in 2022, 67 percent of respondents reported reducing their herd size in 2021 and 50 percent were further reducing their herd during 2022. In this survey, 62 percent of respondents were reducing their herd size in early 2022 and a much lower 17 percent reported they were further reducing their herd or flock. So, this could signal a bottom of the liquidations that were occurring because of drought. It also could just mean that farmers didn’t have any animals left to sell.”

Munch says changes in drought conditions since the survey are regionally dependent.

“In some areas, drought conditions have not improved, like in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas. In other places like California, they have received quite a bit of rain and that occurred outside of the scope of the survey, and those rains in some cases have caused flooding. So, it depends where you are in the country how much recovery there is left in cases of drought or if the drought is still present.”

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