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Agriculture Today

Texas ag drought losses total $7.62 billion

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April 25, 2012 | 4,068 views | Post a comment

COLLEGE STATION -- Texas agricultural losses due to the 2011 drought reached a record $7.62 billion, making it the most costly drought in history, according to updated totals by Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists in a March 21 press release.

“2011 was the driest year on record and certainly an infamous year of distinction for the state’s farmers and ranchers,” said Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist. “The $7.62 billion mark for 2011 is more than $3.5 billion higher than the 2006 drought loss estimates, which previously was the costliest drought on record. The 2011 losses also represent about 43 percent of the average value of agricultural receipts over the last four years.”

“No one alive has seen single-year drought damage to this extent,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and a member of the Governor’s Drought Preparedness Council. “Texas farmers and ranchers are not strangers to drought, but the intensity of the drought, reflected in record high temperatures, record low precipitation, unprecedented winds coupled with duration -- all came together to devastate production agriculture.”

Miller said millions of acres of Texas crops never received enough rain to germinate the planting seed.

“Even irrigated farmers experienced huge losses as water supplies that they could deliver were not adequate to produce crops under these conditions with no rain,” he said. “The drought started in the fall of 2010, resulting in very little winter grazing. Many of our pastures and hay meadows never greened up after the winter.”

Diminishing water supplies and no local hay production dramatically increased the cost of maintaining livestock herds, resulting in massive culling and unprecedented runs at livestock sale rings beginning in June, Miller said.

“Hay was purchased as far away as Montana, dramatically driving up the cost of supplemental feed. While much of the state began to receive some relief from this drought in late fall or early winter, most of the large areas of the plains and West Texas have yet to receive any relief.”

Through August of 2011, AgriLife Extension economists previously reported $5.2 billion in drought losses. The following are updated drought losses for 2011 by commodity with previously reported loss estimates from August in parentheses:

•Livestock: $3.23 billion (up from $2.06 billion);

•Lost hay production value: $750 million (no change);

•Cotton: $2.2 billion (up from $1.8 billion);

•Corn: $736 million (up from $409 million);

•Wheat: $314 million (up from $243 million);

•Sorghum: $385 million (up from $63 million).

Texas drought losses

The following is a list of economic drought losses from 1998 through 2011, as compiled by AgriLife Extension economists:

•2011-- $7.62 billion

•2009 -- $3.6 billion

•2008 -- $1.4 billion

•2006 -- $4.1 billion

•2002 -- $316 million

•2000 -- $1.1 billion

•1999 -- $223 million

•1998 -- $2.4 billion

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