Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published by the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright 2011 Regents of the University of Nebraska.


If you are a beef cattle producer that depends on rain fed pasture then you know how costly a severe drought can be. Whatever actions are taken to mitigate drought, there is always an associated cost whether it be physical or psychological. From an economic perspective, drought mitigation is managed from two main objectives – demand management and/or supply management. Demand management options include decreasing the demand for feed, such as selling livestock, weaning calves early and moving them to a dry lot or sale and/or reducing the grazing time in pastures. Supply management includes options that increase the supply of forage and/or water, which includes well creation, trucking water to livestock, renting additional pasture area, grazing alternative forages such as crop residue and trucking livestock further distances. With rare exception, all of these options incur cost either by increasing expenses or decreasing future revenues. While it may not be possible to avoid costs as the result of drought, it is possible to prepare and limit them. The more prepared you are the more options you will have to mitigate drought conditions, hopefully leading to smaller impacts on you, your family and your livelihood. In addition to being prepared with alternative mitigation strategies, timeliness in implementing those plans is critical in having a successful drought plan. The fact is, drought is going to occur naturally and is a part of doing business. Make it a part of your overall business plan and something that is used with your annual management strategy.