The Social Impact of the Drought
Despite recent rains, the drought remains and is not over as continued rain over the longer term will be necessary to erase the drought effects on water tables influencing well water, soil water capacities, etc. Another factor not quickly erased is the social impact of the drought.
Often individuals discuss the impact of drought on crops and livestock while the human side receives very little discussion. Sure the drink extra water, stay cool, get out of the sun are mentioned but what about the concern a youngster might have when overhearing mom or dad talk about financial loss? What about a spouse feeling stress from financial loss or the need to make tough, long term or even life changing decisions? This drought will have a ripple effect as it impacts more than farmers and agricultural producers. Putnam County during the last five years has seen agricultural products account for cash receipts of between $74 and $84 million for the entire county. Crop insurance will pick up part of the slack for many crop producers while livestock producers will bear the pain over the long haul due to feed costs, increased culling or the need to sell to cut losses. Such decisions cause drastic changes in family life.
A very defining social side to the drought truly exists where one must work to maintain or build physical and psychological health. While it may seem difficult, make it a priority to keep family and friends involved rather than neglecting these individuals who are most important to one’s well-being. Work particularly with your spouse to be a team and keep your children informed as to why life changing events are occurring while providing comfort if needed. Set goals for five, ten or more years as a family. Avoid the blame game and judgmental stereotyping. Instead recognize the value and need for each family member to work together to pull through the tough times.
The University of Nebraska has an excellent publication entitled “Weathering Tough Times – Drought and Heat” that is a great reference for helping families cope with the social aspects of drought. It is linked in the drought webpage for Putnam County which one can access via the “Hot Topics” on the right side of our Purdue Extension Putnam County home page.
The Purdue Extension Putnam County staff including Agriculture Natural Resources Educator- Ann Delchambre, Health Human Sciences Educator- Jackie Baumann and County Extension Director, 4-H Youth Educator- Mark Evans would be glad to listen and work with any of our local residents who are struggling due to the difficulties inflicted by the record setting drought. There are numerous resources and opportunties for assistance. Don't hesitate to contact us at 765.653.8411 or by email using the contact link (above & left).