IT’LL BE BETTER NEXT YEAR
It’ll Be Better Next Year
By Ashley Gilbertson and Ed Kashi
Cimarron County, a farming and ranching community of 2,500 people on the tip of the Oklahoma panhandle, was the epicenter of the 1930s Dust Bowl. Today, Cimarron has become the epicenter of another drought, this one regarded as the most severe in fifty years, and one that has affected 80 percent of agricultural lands in the U.S.
The extreme conditions currently being experienced in Oklahoma affect an area as large as that of the dust bowl crisis 80 years ago, but due to improved farming techniques and the ability to tap into the Oglalla Aquifer to keep grazing and ranch lands irrigated, today’s farmers and ranchers are facing a very different situation. Still, there are potentially catastrophic economic ramifications that could ultimately impact the cost of our food. Both FEMA and the National Weather Service are projecting that the drought will be the most costly and
damaging in U.S. history.
This story looks at how the current drought is impacting folks on a personal and economic level, by telling the story of Casey Murdock—a 43-year-old rancher whose father, grandfather and great grandfather ranched before him. Through an intimate look at one small community at the heart of an ongoing natural disaster, this short film hopes to raise awareness of the current drought and how people are coping with it.
Together, Ed Kashi and Ashley Gilbertson travelled to Cimarron Country in late July and early August 2013, spending nine days with this small community. They captured audio interviews and created video and still images. Their aim is to profile a slice of the community—sharing the perspectives of people involved in ranching and farming for generations in the area, including one who is related to a subject in one of photographer Arthur Rothstein’s famous photographs made for the Farm Security Administration during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.