Thursday Roundup: Drought

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Drought has cost Texas farmers and ranchers more than $5.2 billion, the steepest losses in the state’s history, according to a report released by the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension service. 

“The drought of 2011 will have a lasting impact on Texas agriculture,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and a member of the Governor’s Drought Preparedness Council.

“This drought is ongoing,” said Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist. “Further losses will continue if rainfall does not come soon to establish this year’s winter wheat crop and wheat grazing.”

The losses represent 27.7 percent of the average value of ag production in the state over the last four years. Livestock losses alone totaled $2.06 billion. Cotton losses totaled $1.8 billion, more than half of the crop loss in the state. Half the cotton acres have been abandoned.

October 2010 through July 2011 was the driest 10-month period in recorded Texas weather, according to the report.

Cattle raisers are selling off across the state. And yields on crops are depressed. Texas corn production alone is estimated to be down 30 percent this year.

 “Perhaps the most telling thing about the 2011 drought was that even irrigated farmers were not spared,” Miller said. “While most Texas irrigation systems work well in normal or even below normal rainfall, many irrigators found that water supplies were not able to provide all of the water requirements of the crop in the absence of any rain and excessive heat.  By mid-July, farmers began to try to stop (economic) losses, dedicating all of their water supplies to a reduced amount of acres as water demand from the crops was higher than their ability to supply it.”

• Chris Clayton at DTN is in Texas covering the drought. He was in Amarillo talking to cattlemen. Good report on what’s happening to the cattle industry in the Texas Panhandle can be found here

•The President ended his three day bus tour of small towns in the Midwest. We didn’t hear many specific rural proposals that were new. President Obama will probably propose tax cuts for companies that hire new workers, funding for new roads and schools and support for the long-term unemployed, the Washington Post reports

Katie Micik at DTN has a more rural rundown of what the President was saying. 

Dave Murphy at the Huffington Post also notes the President’s failure to follow through on earlier promises to confront antitrust violations in rural America. The founder of Food Democracy Now! writes:

In reality, the best way to create jobs is by saving the ones that you already have. The same is true about keeping farmers on the land. The equation for success in rural America has never changed, make sure farmers receive a fair price in the marketplace and the wealth will spread, our communities will prosper and our nation will flourish. After a century of listening to false promises by DC politicians, rural America is paying closer attention to what these folks do once they’re elected, versus what they say on the campaign trail. And it’s time that Washington got down to the business of putting farmers first, after all their jobs just might depend on it.

Deere reported a gain this last quarter, but the farm equipment maker’s growth has slowed.

Deere, Iowa’s largest manufacturer, is facing higher raw material costs and those are cutting into profits. Sales of ag equipment were still very strong, up 22 percent in the last quarter over the year before. Some of that gain was in Europe and Russia. Deere officials said crop and price forecasts made the company “very bullish” for the ag sector. 

 

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