Texas faces at least $21M in wildfire damages
Texas ranchers AMARILLO — are facing at least $21 mil- lion in agricultural damages from wildfires that black- ened more than 750 square miles in the Texas Panhandle last week.
Damages last week included $6.1 million in lost pastureland; $6.1 million in lost or damaged fencing; $3.8
million in lost buildings; $4 million in livestock deaths; and $1 million for emergency hay and feed, economist Steve Amosson told the San Antonio Express-News.
“There are a lot of losses, and we just don’t know all of them at this time,” he said. “We’re still dealing with chaos. They’re still trying to find cattle.”
Dry grasses, low humid- ity levels and high winds all contributed to the March 6 wildfires, said Amaril- lo-based National Weather Service forecaster Edward Andrade.
Amosson said the longterm impact will depend on whether the remaining 13,000 to 14,000 cattle will be fed with reduced grazing land. Some cattle might also suffer fire-related health issues, such as smoke inha- lation.
The Texas Animal Health Commission determined Wednesday that 2,500 head of cattle and 1,900 swine were lost to the Texas fires.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared an emergency in six counties.
Abbott and the governors of New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Young to halt grazing restrictions on federal lands to give surviving cattle more places to feed.
“Emergency gr a zing authorization would provide immediate relief to livestock producers,” Abbott said.
In a statement Thursday, Abbott’s office announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made critical resources available for
those affected. Those services include the Emergency Conservation Program, which provides funding and techni- cal assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natu- ral disasters.
David Crockett rides the scorched prairie of Franklin Ranch searching for injured cattle last week after wildfires, driven by 50 mph winds, raced across Gray County. Texas ranchers are facing at least $21 million in agricultural damage from the wildfires, which blackened more than 750 square miles in the Texas Panhandle. Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency in six counties.