Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Texas farm losses from storm top $600 million

The cold weather that gripped Texas in late February cost at least $600 million in damage to crops, livestock and poultry, estimates the university of Texas A&M.

It said “residual costs from the disaster could plague many producers for years to come,” including tree nurseries and cattle ranchers who lost a generation of genetics.

AgriLife Extension estimates of some of the state’s biggest agricultural losses were at least $230 million to citrus groves, even though much of the crop had been harvested, at least $228 million in the livestock sector and at least $150 million worth of vegetable crops.

The university’s survey of tree nurseries and greenhouses is ongoing, so those losses have yet to be tallied.

Some greenhouses collapsed under snow and others could not be heated when the state’s electricity grid failed.

“There are still many as yet unknown and lingering effects of Winter Storm Uri,” said Dr. Monty Dozier of the extension service.

“What we can say is these figures are conservative and we expect more losses as a long-term effect of this disaster.”

Livestock losses include not only cattle, sheep and goats and their offspring that died or were badly injured during the freeze, but also damage to the livestock industry infrastructure, said Dr. David Anderson, an extension service livestock economist at Bryan-College Station.

Anderson said poultry farms lost birds, barns were damaged and they had higher heating costs.

In East Texas where there are many plant nurseries some reported total losses, collapsed greenhouses and plants that died when heating systems failed. There will likely be plant shortages for landscaping trees for years to come.