AUSTIN BUSINESS JOURNAL

Ranchers Desperate For Relief in Form of Rain

Sep 1, 2009 | Austin Business Journal by A.J. Mistretta | Related Press

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 700

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 707

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 700

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 707

Blanco County cattle rancher Don Casey can’t believe the steps he’s had to take to cope with the drought.

Casey has already sold off many head of cattle this year, unable to sustain his herd with little available water and grass that hasn’t grown in months. His ranch near Johnson City is one of hundreds across Central and South Texas suffering major losses because of the lack of rain and triple digit temperatures.

In Blanco County west of Austin, ranchers can normally run one cow for every 20 to 25 acres, Casey said. But he’s about to cut his operation back to one cow for every 60 acres just to remain operational. Meanwhile, he and his fellow ranchers have just one question in mind: “When’s it going to rain?”

The Texas Department of Agriculture estimates that statewide agriculture losses so far this year total more than $3.6 billion. That figure is expected to easily surpass the $4 billion mark, making 2009 a record year for Texas losses.

And it’s not just the drought. The recession is also taking a toll on farming nationwide, according to a new U.S. Agriculture Department report, which shows farm profits will fall 38 percent this year alone.

Gene Hall, director of public relations for the Texas Farm Bureau, said from North Central Texas all the way into South Texas, drought conditions are the worst they’ve been in years. “I doubt there is a non-irrigated blade of grass between San Marcos and the Rio Grande Valley,” said Hall.

With both water and feed growing more scarce by the day, cattle ranchers are having to step up the sale of herds. “Ranchers are just at the end of their rope,” said Hall. Crop wise it’s turned out to be a really poor year for corn and hay in the region. Hall said there is still some hope for a decent cotton crop later this year, since cotton is a more drought-resistant crop.

But cattle ranchers are certainly carrying a heavy part of the burden. Casey said he was at the weekly livestock sale in Fredericksburg last Wednesday where ranchers normally sell about 70 cows. This past week, he said ranchers brought about 600 cows to the sale. “And this is happening every week,” he said.

“People talk about the record drought in the 1950s and they wonder if this is worse,” said Casey. “It’s certainly getting close and some people think it’s already reached that point.”

Read the entire article »