Texas Agriculture Devastated by Hurricane Harvey

Podcast / Newsline August 31, 2017

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Farmers and ranchers in southeast Texas will soon begin assessing damages to their businesses after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: As groups such as the Texas Farm Bureau begin to coordinate relief efforts, farmers and ranchers are still faced with prolonged rainfall and flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane is one of the largest-ever to make landfall in the United States and is projected to be one of the costliest natural disasters ever. Texas Farm Bureau’s Gene Hall says the impacts of Hurricane Harvey will be long lasting.

Hall: We know this is going to be a significant agricultural disaster. We were involved in a relief effort when the wildfires hit earlier this year. This is going to dwarf that in every respect and it’s going to be a long time before we really realize the scope of it. We know that a lot of farmers were counting on this cotton crop to be the one that keeps them in business. We don’t know if every farmer can survive this. Prices are low and cost are high, and they were counting on significantly improved yields this year.

Clements: Texas farmers were expected to produce a bumper cotton crop this year. Hall says most of the cotton was harvested in the path of the hurricane, but was still being stored in the fields at the time.

Hall: The modules, the way that cotton is stored in the field, and they’re covered with a tarp. We know that tarps have been blown away, the modules have been torn apart by wind and damaged by rain, so that’s going to impact the overall loss in cotton. There’s still about 10 percent of rice that’s in the fields. Some of that might be salvaged, but in the case of mature heads of grain being submerged, that’s not likely going to be much left to salvage.

Clements: Ranchers in the path of the storm had a few days to prepare and move cattle before landfall, but Hall says many were likely caught by surprise.

Hall: This thing is unprecedented. And, just as the city of Houston had unexpected flooding, I’m certain that a lot of ranchers were caught by surprise as well. We’ve heard reports of cattle being moved out of flooded areas. We’ve heard other reports of ranchers not being able to get to the areas where they expect the cattle have been subjected to flood waters. So, we don’t know the numbers, but we do know it’s probably a significant number.

Clements: Find ways to help with relief efforts at www.texasfarmbureau.org. Micheal Clements, Washington.

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