Ranchers’ Use of Drought Contingency Plans in Protective Action Decision Making

Tonya Haigh, Michael Hayes, Jolene Smyth, Linda Prokopy, Charles Francis, Mark Burbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Drought contingency planning is an increasingly common tool in the ranchers’ climate adaptation toolboxes, but its effect on drought response has not yet been evaluated. We use cognitive models of protective action decision making and planning to explore the effects of having a drought plan on the use of drought early warning information and drought response (and timing). Results of a cross-sectional, probability-based survey of livestock producers affected by a 2016 flash-drought are used to describe the characteristics of operations with drought plans and provide evidence of whether having a plan predicts drought information use and response. While larger operations are more likely than others to have plans for drought, having a drought plan appears to play a unique role in ranchers’ use of information and decision making regardless of operation size. Findings suggest that encouraging the use of drought contingency planning may improve ranchers’ adaptive capacity. Increased use of planning may also increase the effectiveness of communicating risk and early warning information, by making such information more actionable by decision makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-62
Number of pages13
JournalRangeland Ecology and Management
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Destocking
  • Drought
  • Implementation intention
  • Rangeland
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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