Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - March 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Drought Hits Texas Agriculture Hard as Costs Climb Toward $1 Billion
Houston County Courier - March 2009
AUSTIN – Recent rains across the state have provided some relief for all Texans, but for farmers and ranchers, the effects of the lingering drought continue to escalate.
A report released Friday, March 13 by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimates the current drought, which started in 2008 and continues today, is costing Texas agriculture nearly $1 billion.
“Texas farmers and ranchers are the most resilient bunch I have ever seen,” Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said.
“And while we are all grateful for this week’s much-needed rain, the fact remains – Texas producers have been hit hard with a triple threat starting with Hurricane Ike last fall, then with our nation’s current economic calamity, and now, with one of the worst droughts our state has seen in years. God has blessed us with this moisture and we hope that it will relieve some of the pressure facing our producers. Most areas of the state will need some consistent rains to officially end the drought.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 100 percent of Texas counties are suffering from drought conditions.
Forty percent of the state is classified as extreme or exceptional, the two worst categories. According to AgriLife’s report, the current drought has already cost segments of the Texas agriculture industry $829 million.
Cattle producers are spending substantial amounts on hay and supplemental feed, and because of a lack of forage, their cattle are experiencing lower rates of conception and are being sold at lower weights than usual.
The drought has also made it difficult for Texas farmers to plant crops. More than half of the wheat crop is rated as being in poor to very poor condition, but there is still time for potential recovery.
If Texas receives substantial precipitation, the growing season could be saved.
Producers are encouraged to take advantage of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline at (877) 429-1998.
This is a great resource for those who have extra hay to sell or a pasture to lease, and for those who need hay.
A Disaster Resource Information Packet is also available and provides pertinent contact information for state, federal and private agricultural disaster assistance programs. Information on both resources can be found at www.TexasAgriculture.gov.