Editor's Notebook: Be Prepared for a Disaster

May 4, 2011 12:29 PM
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KIM WATSON-POTTS, editor of Beef Today, writes from
San Antonio, Texas.

It’s difficult to look out your front door and think beyond what you see. Right now, where I live in
San Antonio, we’re in the second driest year since the 1860s. That’s pretty depressing to experience, especially since the drought has been ongoing for a couple of years now with few breaks.

Already this spring, wildfires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres of pastures across Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, those areas are getting some long overdue rains. Unfortunately, the forecast isn’t too hopeful. This neck of the woods has been dealing with dry weather for some time, and cattle producers in the area are already pretty bare-bones when it comes to stocking pastures. And it’s a shame that just when cattle prices are headed higher, many producers aren’t going to have the pastures, or adequate water, to expand herds anytime soon.

Rains will come.

The forage outlook in this issue shows that much of cattle country will struggle with persistent drought this summer. We can blame dry weather on La Niña, but it doesn’t look like it will be changing in time to green up pastures. Let’s hope we’ll see some showers by the end of summer.

I know that not all of you are experiencing drought conditions, and are receiving adequate moisture. Some areas are dealing with flooding. And it isn’t spring without severe weather and tornadoes.

Whatever situation you are experiencing, we’re all vulnerable to whatever Mother Nature dishes out. It’s a good idea to be prepared when disasters occur.

“Every farm should have a disaster plan to protect assets from natural disasters and other emergencies,” says Mary Lou Peter of Kansas State University Research and Extension and the Extension Disaster Education Network (read more).

For example, farmers and ranchers, like other business owners, should back up their computers and use off-site storage for electronic and hard-copy records that are impossible to replace. There are links to several resources to help you with disaster planning in the Cattlemen’s Notebook.

You should also plan ahead to protect livestock. Determine where you will move your animals if you get too much or not enough rain, or if they are threatened with wildfires. And maybe by planning ahead, you’ll never actually need to take emergency measures.

Here’s hoping we’ll all get just the right amount of rain at just the right time this spring and summer.


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