Texas Ag Commissioner Talks Flooding, Ag Challenges

Texas is bracing itself for another round of heavy rain this week after Hurricane Harvey tore through the state. Early damage estimates from the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association are as high as $150 million, but will likely get higher after the floodwaters recede. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said producers across the state are still fighting the rising floodwaters…

“We’re still in rescue mode, we haven’t hit recovery mode, then of course, in a couple of weeks we’ll be in rebuild mode.  So, we’re still trying to get people to safety and out of harm’s way, still trying to get livestock to higher ground, in some cases, so we really haven’t gotten to the recovery end of it, yet.”

While a lot of the cotton crop has been harvested, there’s still cotton in the fields that won’t be coming out…

“I can tell you the Coastal Plain area, down there where the cotton production is, a lot of it had been picked and was in modules but the modules got blown away, and the ones that didn’t got wet.  And the Deere style of harvesting, those bales are soaked.  All in all, it looks like $150 million preliminary damage to the farm crops in that Coastal Plains area.”

Most of the corn crop had been harvested before the storm. Overall, farmers are going to take a bit hit to the pocket book…

“Most of the corn was in the bin, most of the rice, about 75% of the rice was harvested, it’s in the bin, we do have some bins that were damaged, we do have some cotton gins that were destroyed and some were damaged.  So, it’s going to be a long time before we finish up.  Thing about it, it was a good crop, a bumper crop, but until it gets ginned, you don’t get paid for it and this cotton hadn’t been ginned.” 

Miller has been in touch with the Trump Administration in Washington as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fuel quality is going to be one of the many issues they’ll be dealing with in Texas…

“One of the biggest issues that we’ll have on the farm, and the city folks too, is fuel quality.  Anytime you have four or five feet of water sitting on these storage tanks, inevitably you’ll have some that gets contaminated with water and trash.  So, we’re going to monitor that closely.”

People who want to help out producers in the aftermath of so much devastation should go to the Texas Ag Department website. Follow the links to donate to the Star Foundation. Miller says 100 percent of the donations go straight to the farm families that need it.

The Ag Department has also set up a hay hotline to help secure much-needed hay for livestock producers. The number for more information on the Hay Hotline is 512-463-9360.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.

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