The current drought is wreaking havoc on crops, cattle and lawns. A five-part series in the Statesman this week looks at the extreme effects this dry period is having on Texans across the state. The hardest hit? Farmers and ranchers, with a total economic agricultural loss estimated to be $8.7 billion, according to the Texas A&M System’s AgriLife Extension Service. Will ranchers ever recover? Even if the drought ends next year, it doesn’t look good:
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report this month rates 96 percent of Texas pastureland in poor or very poor condition.
It’s not likely to get better any time soon, observers say. It’s going to take years. If ever. And there’s no telling how many of the state’s 149,000 beef producers will decide they’ve had enough.
“It’s just fighting depression,” said Casey. “For the first time in my life, it wasn’t fun to go out and feed the cows. And then every week I took a load of cattle to Fredericksburg, just a few at a time.”
And some troubling statistics on rainfall during the last four years: