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Texas Fire would take a Severe Toll on Agriculture and Food Supply across the state

Texas Fire would take a Severe Toll on Agriculture and Food Supply across the state

Agricultural production in the Texas Panhandle is being severely impacted by the wildfires. Thursday morning, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told CBS News that preliminary estimates place the death toll of cattle in the flames at over 7,000, with thousands more likely to perish in the final tally.

He added that the state has not yet received complete tallies of cattle lost in the fires and that the 7,000 fatalities do not include animals that will require euthanasia as a result of their injuries. The fires have consumed over one million acres of land, including the Smokehouse Creek Fire, which is the most extensive conflagration in the history of Texas.

“Their hooves are burned off, their utters are burnt beyond – they can’t nurse their babies,” according to him. “We’ll actually end up having to put a lot of cattle down just because they won’t be able to make it, even though they survived.”

Miller stated that there are slightly more than 11 million head of cattle in the state. According to his estimation, the ultimate cattle loss in the Panhandle may approach ten thousand.

“I don’t think it’ll have an overall price effect over the whole market in the United States,” according to him. “…Locally, it’s quite devastating.”

One rancher with whom Miller spoke lost 700 animals. He stated that another “just starting out” young couple lost everything, including two hundred calves.

“And those cows, right now, are worth from $2,500 to $3,000 and there’s no insurance on those,” according to him. “That’s just a total wipeout.”

For a number of producers, the loss is a double-edged sword. Miller stated that a considerable number of cattle farmers also cultivate cotton, but have neglected to harvest the latter two years. The diminished cotton crops were attributed to drought and high temperatures, according to a September report by the Texas Farm Bureau.

Ricky Yantis, a farmer from Lamb County, located approximately 100 miles south of Amarillo, stated to the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network, “The ground is toast.” He added that the heat appeared “more intense” and brought “hot winds” last year.

Both the proprietors and cattle that have managed to escape the fires relatively unharmed are still experiencing hardships, as the fires destroyed vital resources. Miller stated that four of the primary five fires that have raged for the past two weeks have occurred in the Canadian River Basin, which consists primarily of grazing land and canyons. In the flames, approximately 120 miles of power lines have been consumed, and seven grain and seed dealers have been “utterly destroyed.”

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“That means no electricity and no water for the livestock,” he further stated, adding that between 3,000 and 4,000 miles of fencing have been devastated, according to his unofficial estimation. A mile of fencing costs approximately $10,000, he stated.

Given the critical dependence of the cattle industry on thriving pastures, even the burned grass presents a challenge. According to Miller, grasses will not revert to their former state for at least two years. This means that, in addition to other considerations, the future plans of many ranchers will likely have to be drastically altered, with some even abandoning their surviving livestock.

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