Texas Drought Losses Could Exceed $4.1 billion

TEXAS, US – Lack of rainfall and record triple-digit temperatures have scorched crops and rangeland throughout parts of Texas causing drought losses to reach $3.6 billion, Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists reported Monday.
calendar icon 22 July 2009
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By the end of the year, losses could exceed $4.1 billion, the loss estimated in Texas in 2006, if sufficient rainfall isn’t received to revive crops and forage, economists said.

Total crop losses this year are estimated at $2.6 billion and livestock, another $974 million since November 2008.

“Extreme or exceptional drought conditions for the second year in a row and prolonged weather with over 100 degree temperatures have devastated agricultural crops and livestock operations, especially in Central and South Texas,” said Dr. Carl Anderson, AgriLife Extension economist and professor emeritus. “This area covers about 40 per cent of Texas. With the exception of Northeast Texas, the trans Pecos and the Southern Panhandle areas, the entire state is suffering from lack of sufficient rain for more than a year.”

Meanwhile, the state’s livestock operations continue to suffer. Little or no hay has been baled this year or for 2008 in South, Central or East Texas. Much of Texas continues to be short on moisture. The hay loss at mid-year is estimated at $409 million, according to economists. Hay is being shipped into south Texas from northeast Texas and other states.

“Given the critical shortage of forage for grazing and hay, a soaking rain is needed soon to maintain the beef cow herd in Central and South Texas,” said Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock marketing economist. “The high cost of buying hay and supplemental feed is resulting in liquidation of some herds."

Counties in extreme and exceptional drought account for 40 per cent of Texas’ cow herd and 6 percent of the U.S.’s beef cow herd, Anderson said. Ranchers have been forced to cull deeper into herds and to sell calves at lighter weights, earlier than normal.

“From November 2008 until March 2009, the loss was estimated at $569 million,” Anderson said. “Additional livestock costs since March 2009 are estimated to have totaled about $300 million. The total now is $869 million. Those include feed costs such as hay and other feed supplements, and do not include reduced future revenues due to losing breeding stock and lost revenue from selling calves earlier. In addition to the beef cattle losses, the estimated loss for goats, sheep, honey and horses totals $105 million.”

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