Who we are
To remove barriers and share drought coping strategies within individual operations by working holistically as a network to ensure needs are met.
To build short and long term resilience for drought among Colorado Producers by working with farmers and ranchers to connect resources, identify/assess risk, and implement practices that lessen the impact of drought.
What We Do
- Connect interested producers with technical professionals to create drought plans
- Build a network of producers and professionals to increase capacity to cope with drought
- Improve access to drought planning resources through trainings, online and written materials, and one-on-one consulting
Drought Advisors started in a conversation in 2020. That year, Retta Bruegger of Colorado State University Extension and Harrison Topp of Topp Fruits and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union both served on the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s statewide Agriculture Impact Task Force, responding to one of the worst droughts in Colorado’s history. Unlike in past droughts, large gatherings were not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so producers were challenged both by the conditions and by isolation.
Bruegger and Topp wanted to find a way to combat feelings of powerlessness and isolation around drought in their communities. Previously, Bruegger had developed and co-hosted drought planning and preparedness workshops in western Colorado, and through this experience, learned about drought planning and response frameworks. Drought planning emphasizes that though we can’t control drought, we can reduce it’s impact. Bruegger and Topp had the idea of ‘shrinking’ the content of a drought planning workshop into a conversation or series of small meetings. Farmers and ranchers are experts in their operations, but sometimes all of us could use a thinking partner when faced with difficult issues. Bruegger and Topp envisioned a producer-led, conversational approach.
From there, the idea of Drought Advisors was born. In 2020/2021 we started a loose-knit group with other individuals and organizations, that met with individual farmers and ranchers regarding their drought concerns and questions.
Today, we have successfully funded and implemented several initiatives, including leading the Drought Leadership Training with over 800 views or participants in 2022, and the creation of a Drought Planning Handbook for Colorado. Thanks to a Colorado Water Conservation Board grant, we were able to hire a Program Manager, Tori Kauffman in 2022, and with her, launch the Drought Plan Program.
It is our vision and hope that no matter where a producer is in the state of Colorado, they can find a person or resources they trust to enable them to better prepare for and respond to drought.