Drought spanning the course of six months has been slowly crippling the state of Alabama. As extreme or exceptional conditions consume more than 65% of the state, Governor Robert Bentley issued a state-wide drought emergency earlier this month – which is considered the most extreme response.  Residents and bulk-water consumers have been forced to limit water use and follow strict guidelines; however, farmers and ranchers in the state of Alabama are among those most affected.
Severe drought conditions have paralyzed the growth of hay – an essential crop that sustains much of our meat sources. “Drought is a slow, silent disaster that can cause water shortages and negatively affect hay, livestock and other industries,” said Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director Jim Byard.  Lack of resources has forced cattle farmers to carry the financial burden of either reducing their herd (and therefore their profit) or paying astronomical fees for out-of-state hay to be shipped in. This, in return, may cause meat prices to increase.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture has set forth a plan to help mitigate this issue. “Our hearts go out to those Alabama farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.  According to an article on WAAY-TV, the Department has reduced or eliminated nearly all permit fees and also set up a directory listing available hay sources throughout the state. However, this is a short-term solution to an emergency situation that could have a large economic impact.
State residents and commercial water users are still encouraged to find alternative water management strategies to offset the effects of this persistent drought. Manager of the Alabama Office of Water Resources (OWR) Water Management Unit, Tom Little, encouraged, “As water levels drop, we strongly urge public water systems and other users of large amounts of water to continue to carefully monitor conditions and implement their drought conservation plans.” 
Published: 11/29/2016 United States Department of Agriculture. USDA Designates 2 Counties in Alabama as Primary Natural Disaster Areas With Assistance to Producers in Surrounding States. United States Department of Agriculture, July 6, 216. Web. http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/newsReleases?mystate=al&area=stnewsroom&subject=stnr&topic=landing&newstype=stnewsrel&type=detail&item=stnr_al_20160713_rel_016.html  Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Advisory indicates drought emergency for 28 Alabama counties. Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, October 18, 2016. Web. http://www.media.alabama.gov/AgencyTemplates/adeca/adeca_pr4.aspx?id=11856  Reeves, Jay. Alabama Drought Is Worsening, Killing Plants, Drying Creeks. ABC News / Associated Pres, November 3, 2016. Web http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-son-law-jared-kushner-applied-white/story?id=43586998  Gattis, Paul. Alabama drought update: How much worse is it getting? Alabama Media Group, November 3, 2016. Web. http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2016/11/alabama_drought_update_how_muc.html  The Gadsden Times, Ala. 28 Alabama Counties Placed Under Drought Emergency. Emergency Management, October 19, 2016. Web. http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Etowah-County-under-drought-emergency.html  Reid, Cat. Drought leads to hay shortages, will soon raise beef prices. WAAY-TV, October 16, 2016. Web. http://www.waaytv.com/appnews/drought-leads-to-hay-shortages-will-soon-raise-beef-prices/article_b87b2bfe-9416-11e6-8573-031426d87e7a.html