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TDA’s State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund, or STAR Fund, is accepting donations to assist the Texas Panhandle's farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires.

Farm Press Staff

February 29, 2024

2 Min Read
wildfires in Texas Panhandle
TDA's STAR Funds to be used to assist farmers and ranchers in need. Texas A&M Forest Service

The Smokehouse Creek Fire, one of five active fires scorching the Texas Panhandle, has become the state's largest in history, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service, having burned over 1,075,000 acres with minimal containment. Multiple grain and seed operations have reported total losses as well.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) are ready to provide assistance to Texans in need through agricultural relief funds, essential hay and feed resources, and feeding programs for affected families, according to a recent release.

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 “These fires not only threaten lives and property but will also have a substantial impact on our agriculture industry," Miller said. "Over 85% of the state’s cattle population is located on ranches in the Panhandle. There are millions of cattle out there, with some towns comprising more cattle than people. The losses could be catastrophic for those counties. Farmers and ranchers are losing everything.” 

As Governor Greg Abbott declares a disaster in 60 counties, the TDA’s State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund, or STAR Fund, is requesting donations to assist the region’s devastated farmers and ranchers.

The STAR Fund, which is funded 100% through donations, mobilizes resources to support affected agricultural producers. TDA reimburses qualified agricultural producers 50% of eligible expenses, the release stated. While STAR Fund financial resources cannot be used for crop or livestock loss compensation, they are used to help rebuild fences, restore operations, and cover other expenses related to agricultural disaster relief and restarting operations. 

Related:Texas Panhandle: 4 wildfire donation tips

STAR Fund eligibility

To be eligible, an agriculture business/operation/ranch/farm must reside in a county included in the Texas Governor’s disaster declaration. To determine wildfire disaster declaration counties, click on this link.

“Donations will go a long way toward rebuilding the Panhandle,” Commissioner Miller added. “We stand in solidarity with our farmers and ranchers facing loss and destruction. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this challenging time, and we're committed to supporting their recovery efforts every step of the way.”

School lunches

 Due to the wildfires, 16 regional school districts have also closed. TDA will permit school districts to provide meals and continue to serve kids under the unanticipated school closure waiver flexibility. 

 “We don’t want any students to go hungry during this difficult time for families,” Commissioner Miller said. “Whatever TDA can do to help, we will.”

Related:Immediate care needed for cattle harmed by wildfires

 If you are in emergency need of hay to feed livestock please visit TDA’s Hay Hotline here.

To donate or for more information on the STAR Fund please follow this link.

 

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