2011 Texas agricultural drought losses total $7.62 billion

News
Mar 23, 2012
by WLJ

Texas agricultural losses due to the 2011 drought reached a record $7.62 billion, making it the most costly drought in history, according to updated totals by Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists.

“2011 was the driest year on record and certainly an infamous year of distinction for the state’s farmers and ranchers,” said Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist. “The $7.62 billion mark for 2011 is more than $3.5 billion higher than the 2006 drought loss estimates, which previously was the costliest drought on record. The 2011 losses also represent about 43 percent of the average value of agricultural receipts over the last four years.”

“No one alive has seen single-year drought damage to this extent,” said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and a member of the Governor’s Drought Preparedness Council. “Texas farmers and ranchers are not strangers to drought, but the intensity of the drought, reflected in record high temperatures, record low precipitation, unprecedented winds coupled with duration—all came together to devastate production agriculture.”

“When you are one of the biggest agricultural producing states in the nation, a monumental drought causes enormous losses,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said. “While the pain and damage this drought has caused cannot be overstated, our state’s farmers and ranchers are determined in their commitment and fierce in their resolve. We will rebuild and continue delivering the safest, most reliable and most affordable food supply in the world.”

Miller said millions of acres of Texas crops never received enough rain to germinate the planting seed.

“Even irrigated farmers experienced huge losses as water supplies that they could deliver were not adequate to produce crops under these conditions with no rain,” he said. “The drought started in the fall of 2010, resulting in very little winter grazing. Many of our pastures and hay meadows never greened up after the winter.”

Through August of 2011, AgriLife Extension economists previously reported $5.2 billion in drought losses. The following are updated drought losses for 2011 by commodity with previously reported loss estimates from August in parenthesis.

Livestock: $3.23 billion (up from $2.06 billion); Lost hay production value: $750 million (no change); Cotton: $2.2 billion (up from $1.8 billion); Corn: $736 million (up from $409 million).

Wheat: $314 million (up from $243 million); and Sorghum; $385 million (up from $63 million). — WLJ

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