Hurricane Harvey’s impact on agriculture in Texas

On August 25, 2017, one the worst recorded hurricanes hit one of America’s top agricultural producing states, Texas. With wind gusts up to nearly 130 mph and an accumulated 51.88 inches of rainfall, a variety of Texas’ agricultural operations were sure to take a devastating hit from the hurricane, and all of this happened right in the middle of harvest season.

When it came to food crops, a multitude of the farmers in Texas had millions of dollars in equipment and grain destroyed by the flood. Many warehouses filled with grain became flooded, silos were swept from their foundation with swift water from more than 50 inches of rain and hazardous wind speeds. Additionally, many fresh water systems could not be used due to the immense rainfall being drawn into the fresh water systems of Texas.

As reported by the Dallas Morning News, rice producer John Gaulding, said, “It was just a stressful situation, it was something that we just didn’t have to go through.” According to the story, the 71-year-old Gaulding has farmed nearly 50 rice crops.

Charlie Reneau, also quoted in the Dallas Morning News story, said, “It was looking to be a relatively good year. Then Harvey shows up and wrecks it for us.” Reneaue farms about 1,800 acres of rice near Beaumont.

Unfortunately, it was not only some of Texas’ food crops that were being destroyed, but also fiber crops, primarily cotton, and thousands of beef cattle. According to the USDA, Texas is the largest cotton producing state in the U.S., producing nearly 42 percent of the country’s cotton.

“A lot of cotton didn’t get harvested,” said a spokesman for Texas Farm Bureau. “We know that they were racing the clock trying to beat landfall … I think anything left on the stalk, you got to consider that a total loss.”

According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, in 54 different counties, Texas lost nearly 1.2 million beef cattle. This is a near 4 percent loss of American beef cattle.

However, there has been some relief for farmers and citizens that have been affected by the catastrophes of the hurricane.

“Right now, the Texas Farm Bureau has been concentrated on taking up cash donations in order to support Texas farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by the storm,” said Gene Hall, Texas Farm Bureau director of communications. “Also, we are now figuring out where to disperse the money, because there has been a large amount of donations. All of these donations go 100 percent to people in agriculture, and the agricultural industry. We are currently still taking applications for farmers and ranchers who need assistance recovering from Harvey. All donations are tax-deductible, and anyone can donate, including businesses, individuals, and even large corporations. If anyone would like to donate, they can go to our website at texasfarmbureau.org for more information.”

While there has been much tragedy from the hurricane, it has been a great representation of Americans coming together to support one another through troublesome times.

In a Texas Farm Bureau press release from this past August,  President Russell Boening is quoted as saying, “Harvey roared into Texas and overstayed his welcome, but now we look ahead-to recovery and rebuilding the farms and ranches in that part of our great state.”

Jacob Blank

About the Author Jacob Blank

Coming from a rural town known as Richland, Missouri, where the cows outnumber the people, I have become fond of and learned to respect every agricultural aspect of my community. I was always highly involved with the Richland FFA Chapter, where I held many leadership positions and showed off the blue corduroy jacket wherever I went. I am currently majoring in Agricultural Education with a double minor in Agricultural Economics and Animal Science, and I plan to spread the word of FFA and agriculture into a rural classroom after I graduate. I am beyond excited to write for the CAFNR Corner Post and I can’t wait to share with you all some interesting things in agriculture happening in our lives.