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Hurricane Harvey left more than $200M in crop, livestock loss

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The destruction has been added up and Hurricane Harvey was definitely a beast. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economists estimate Harvey caused more than $200 million in crop and livestock losses.

“The effects of Hurricane Harvey will linger for quite some time with our Texas farmers and ranchers,” said Dr. Doug Steele, agency director in College Station. “Many South Texas or coastal area cotton farmers were on the verge of harvesting one of the best crops ever in Texas, while some ranchers were unable to save some cattle from insurmountable flood waters.

“However, the livestock losses could have been far worse had it not been for the many cooperating associations that joined forces with AgriLife Extension to establish animal supply points in the impacted areas, providing livestock with fresh hay and feed donated from across Texas and from generous individuals in neighboring states.”

Hay and feed donations were valued at more than $1.3 million, according to AgriLife Extension economists.

Hurricane losses by agricultural commodity include:

– Livestock: $93 million

– Cotton: $100 million

– Rice and soybeans: $8 million

Livestock losses include not only cattle and calves that died during the hurricane but also industry infrastructure, said Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist in College Station. Beyond animals lost directly due to the storm, extensive supplies of hay for winter feeding were destroyed.

“What you must take into consideration is the replacement costs of hay that was destroyed from the high flood waters,” Anderson said. “We are right on the verge of entering winter feeding season and ranchers will have to find replacement hay that averages $63 per round bale. A rancher may typically feed two or more round bales per cow during winter, so even if there isn’t hay available they will still have to purchase some type of supplemental feed. All of this comes with a hefty price.”

The value of fences, barns, and animal-handling facilities lost adds up quickly, Anderson said.

“Rebuilding fences can cost $2.50 or more per foot,” he said. “Overall, these livestock loss numbers could have been far, far worse had it not been for the quick action of ranchers ahead of and during the storm. Also important were the proactive actions of cattle industry associations in Texas, countless volunteers, and AgriLife Extension working together in coordination to either get cattle to dry points and make ample supplies of hay available, as well as the U.S. military airdropping round bales.”

Meanwhile, 200,000 bales of cotton lint on the stalk valued at $62.4 million was lost and another 200,000 harvested bales valued at $9.6 million had degraded quality, said Dr. John Robinson, AgriLife Extension cotton marketing economist in College Station. In addition, there were widespread losses of cottonseed.

“You either had cotton that was on the stalk ready to be harvested and then taken out by Hurricane Harvey, or you had cotton modules sitting in the field only to have been damaged by wind, rain and/or flood water,” Robinson said. “The Southeast Texas cotton crop was set to be one of the best of all time. You’ve got reports from ginners who have ginning quality concerns related to seed coat problems, poor leaf grade, and trash.”

Rice and soybean crop losses accounted for approximately $8 million in losses. In its October crop production estimates, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered Texas rice production 614,000 hundredweight compared to pre-storm estimates. The value of that production at current market prices is about$7.5 million, said Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension grains marketing economist in College Station.

The USDA-Farm Service Agency reports 1,729 acres of soybeans have been reported as failed along the Coastal Bend. While specific production numbers are not yet available for counties along the coast, using a statewide average of 37 bushels per acre puts the value of lost soybean acres at just over $500,000, Welch said.

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