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Extreme drought crippling Texas agriculture

Extreme drought crippling Texas agriculture
Most of Texas remains in drought conditions. Irony is that year started off with high hopes from high prices. Asking for federal disaster assistance.

The Texas Farm Bureau board of directors, meeting in its regular quarterly session at its headquarters in Waco, Texas, issued the following statement of urgency:

As wildfires in Texas continue a rampage across more than two million acres, another major disaster is gripping the Lone Star State. Dry weather has a stranglehold on all but a small portion of Texas.

Almost the entire state is officially classified in drought—much of it as extreme or exceptional. The seven-month period from October of 2010 to April of this year is officially the driest on record. May is usually our wettest month. Except for a few isolated areas, rain has refused to fall.

Texas farmers and ranchers are in an extremely critical situation as we prepare for June and the hot summer months. Crops are shriveling in the field. Pastures are burning. Many farmers likely will have little or nothing to harvest. Some ranchers already are selling their herds.

The irony is that Texas farmers and ranchers entered 2011 with great hope. Crop and livestock prices were high. Texas agriculture was looking forward to a great year. Instead, we’re facing a situation that could be more devastating than the drought of 2009, when farmers and ranchers suffered direct losses of $4 billion.

This year, input costs for producing crops and livestock are close to historic highs. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, these costs have increased 85 percent since last year. Fuel, fertilizer, seed, feed and other high-cost production items already are invested with little hope of breaking even financially. Although it’s too early to speculate, those kinds of losses two times in three years will be hard to overcome for many producers.

Texas agriculture is responsible for about 14 percent of jobs in the state. The agriculture industry has been a positive national force in helping the U.S. pull through the recession. We are concerned about the negative consequences even beyond our farms and ranches. 

Texas Farm Bureau will continue to explore all avenues of assistance with state and federal officials. We will marshal what resources are available to help farmers and ranchers through these difficult times. We call upon federal and state officials to recognize the plight of Texas farmers and ranchers and to expedite any assistance that can be made available.

What will help most is steady, abundant moisture. Farmers and ranchers ask all Texans to join us as we pray for rain.


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