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Farmers and ranchers struggle with South Texas drought conditions

Nueces County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension is calling this a 'disaster'.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When we hear the word 'disaster' we may think of a hurricane or a flood, but what farmers and ranchers are experiencing with this drought has been devastating. 

Jaime Lopez with Nueces County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension told 3NEWS that for the majority of the crops across the Coastal Bend, they're seeing between 25% to 50% less than normal.

"This is considered a disaster," Lopez said. "We've had 100 degree days, we've had months and months without rain. We're in desperate need of moisture for next year."

Lopez went on to say this is the nature of the beast when it comes to living in South Texas. "Last year, we had one of the wettest years that we've had in 30 years, and this is one of the driest years we've had in the last 10 to 12 years," he added.

Having to experience a difference this drastic within 12 months is distressing itself. Especially for farmers and ranchers like Scott Frazier who are having to rely heavily on crop insurance.

"In our livestock, our grass is short, hay is in short supply, we've liquidated a lot of beef cattle, so we don't have near the numbers we had," Frazier explained, "and that's pretty much all over the state of Texas right now."

Frazier hopes that crop insurance will get them over the hump if they don't have the yields they need. "We've tried to watch our inputs very closely and do the absolute minimum we can in way of herbicides, fertilizers, and insecticides."

The USDA has also provided an emergency livestock assistance program, ELAP, which provides financial assistance to producers for losses due to the adverse weather events and conditions. The program also helps offset the costs of transportation when travelling.

"It's not a miracle cure by any means," Frazier said, "but certainly, with diesel prices like they are today, it would help just a little bit."

Lopez still considers the conditions to be pretty normal for our area. "We're in South Texas," he pointed out. "Droughts are not something that are out of the ordinary for us. They've learned to survive and to cope with them. Hopefully we can move on from this."

Frazier hopes other producers can weather the storm, and that the conditions they're dealing with now don't have as much of a ripple effect in the months to come.

"I really think by the end of the year, we'll start to see some of that ripple effect that we're seeing now at harvest time become that loaf of bread a few months from now that may not be there," he predicted.

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