Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Why the Drought Hasn’t Destroyed Texas Farming

The record single-year drought afflicting Texas farmers had destroyed crops, decimated yields, and caused prices to rise. The obvious question: How will the farmers survive?

Enter USDA crop insurance, a lifeline during this year’s drought:

More than 41,000 distressed Texas farmers have received $1.65 billion so far from the national crop insurance program to help compensate for disastrous low yields and other damage caused by the state’s worst drought in history.

Though experts say the amount covers only about a third of the agricultural losses across the state, it may help some survive.

The USDA covers up to 65 percent of farmers’ premiums for the insurance, and has paid out over $130 million to farmers in West Texas so far this year. A study by Texas A&M University estimates agricultural losses due to this year’s drought to be $5.2 billion.

For ranchers, there is less relief:

Much less federal relief money is available to ranchers who suffered drought-related losses.

About $1.5 million from the Livestock Forage Program has been paid to ranchers who suffered livestock deaths related to the drought.

But that’s unlikely to offset losses in the cattle business, Texas’ top agricultural industry.

 Sources: USDA Risk Management Agency; Houston Chronicle


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