TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Though droughts have been a perennial problem for farmers worldwide, the way in which droughts are handled and the ways those droughts are felt has changed significantly.
Among the biggest changes has been the development of federally-subsidized crop insurance, according to Indiana State University economist Robert Guell.
"As long as you play by some basic rules … then a drought will result in a cash payment to the farmer," Guell said, adding that the added protection of that insurance allows farmers to plant more row crops at a lesser risk.
Despite those protections, droughts can still cost farmers who must pay for fuel, irrigation, and other costs.
Meanwhile, the size of farms has increased as well, according to Robyn Morton of the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
"Our farms were much, much smaller," Morton said. "They were easier to manage and often you could irrigate them."
Morton also noted that, in the past, many people had their own gardens and raised some livestock.
Guell also pointed out that inter-connectedness in the global food supply makes it easier for droughts in one region to affect consumers elsewhere.
"Everyone is buying everything from the people that do it best," Guell said. "That's what markets do. That's what globalization does. It also means that they are as susceptible to our droughts as we are to their droughts."
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