Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Harvey is drowning cattle in Texas, #1 cattle state; Victoria paper sees need for aid in rural areas

Cattle stranded in a flooded pasture near La Grange, Texas, on Aug. 28. (CNN photo)
UPDATE, Aug. 30: Agriculture.com has a photo gallery of Texas livestock in dire straits.
Losses of cattle are likely from Hurricane Harvey because farmers in southeast Texas didn't anticipate "the sheer breadth of the storm," Tony Dreibus reports for Agriculture.com. "A lot of these guys have dealt with high water but nothing like this," Texas A&M extension specialist Tom "Andy" Vestal told Dreibus. "Who could’ve imagined 40 to 44 inches of rainfall?”

"The number of cattle deaths has yet to be determined and still may be rising, but it’s likely going to be high as the National Weather Service forecast more than 50 inches of rain in some areas," Dreibus writes. "About 1.2 million beef cows are in the 54 counties that have been declared disaster areas, and that USDA estimate is conservative estimate, A&M livestock economist David Anderson told Dreibus, who notes, "Texas is the biggest cattle and calf producer in the U.S. and has the largest feedlot herd at 2.42 million head, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association."

Dennis DeLaughter, a market analyst who farms near Edna, 50 miles from the center of the storm at its strongest, said ranchers can only do so much. “All you can do is open the gates and hope the cattle are smart enough to seek higher ground,” he said. “You can’t round up all the cattle, so there will definitely be losses.”

Dreibus reports, "The Texas Animal Health Commission plans to deploy its Horseback Emergency Response Team, a group of volunteers who ride their own horses into affected areas when it’s safe to wrangle cattle, locate dead livestock, and gather video documenting the devastation, said Thomas Swafford, a spokesman for the TAHC."

Meanwhile, the editorial board of the Victoria Advocate , which has been prevented from printing, notes online the devastation all over Victoria County, and rural residents' reports that they are getting no assistance. "Federal and state help is needed throughout the Crossroads to recover from this disaster," the paper says. "And as the help arrives, relief workers need to make sure they reach every corner of the region."

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