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A Bleak Outlook for Ranchers

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The last few years have seen serious droughts but this summer's conditions are far worse. Case in point? Take Zack Jones, a cattle rancher in Montana. He explains that the grass on his family's 24,000-acre ranch is primarily gray or white (instead of green or yellow), that there is a water shortage, and that the air is full of smoke from forest fires. Apart from the apparent discomforts of living in these conditions, Jones' business has also suffered greatly. Having only 30% of his usual grass to feed his cattle forces him to raise a smaller herd, sell cattle earlier than intended, or try to find alternate feed sources.


Such desperate times for farmers have led many to make seemingly outlandish decisions. One Kentucky rancher, who previously fed corn to his 1,400 cattle, has gotten inventive -- his cattle dine on candy, which has more fat content than corn.

According to, this is the worst drought the nation has seen in 50 years. Still, consumers may not feel prices increase immediately because most food companies buy ingredients far in advance. Only time will allow us to gauge consumer reactions to the drought, but we can't help but wonder if rising meat prices will push shoppers toward a more plant-based diet.

As if the drought itself weren't enough for farmers to fear, Tropical Storm Isaac has arrived. While some hope that Isaac will bring relief to barren land, others fear that this rainwater could create new problems for farmers, such as forcing more saltwater inland. For now, all we can do is hope for rain -- and for more meatless monday recipes.


Drought Forces Ranchers into Difficult Decisions from NPR