Drought hits local ranchers, farmers
With current drought conditions continuing to bear down on Southeast Texas, those who work with plants and vegetation are suffering, but they are not the only ones. Raising cattle and other livestock can also take its toll financially during these dry times.
Ed Scales, who has 100 head of cattle scattered around on several different properties across the south end of Orange County, said that he has seen a significant jump in expenses.
“It has actually cost me quite a bit for my feed boxes and hay,” Scales said. I’m blessed that I had hay left over from last year. For the guys that don’t bale their own hay, I’m sure this year has been tough on them especially.”
Scales said that he has seen about a 30-40 percent rise in cost for him so far, but says that he has found a silver lining in the situation.
“We’ve had a few little hit-and-miss rain showers and they have helped my ponds,” he said.
But that isn’t the case for everyone.
“Depending on the farmer, and where their land is, the scattered showers may or may not help you out,” Mac Guillory, who has about 20 to 25 head of registered Black Angus off of Texla Road, said. “Somebody a few miles away might get two inches of rain while I don’t get a drop.”
Guillory said that his ponds are down by about 50 percent capacity.
“Our ponds are getting very low,” he said. “Fortunately, we have a 500-foot well to pull from.”
Guillory said that his costs are up by about 30-35 percent over a traditional year.
“Fertilizer is extremely high,” he said. “Usually, I produce about five to six bales of hay an acre. Now, I’m only getting three to four at best. That means I’m having to buy more feeding what I used to pay around $5 to $6 a 50-pound bag it now seems to range about $8 or $9, which is due to higher commodity price.
“But with hay not coming in, you have to supplement.”
Dr. Roy Stanford, county extension agent, said that the United State Department of Agriculture has made some assistance programs available for farmers and ranchers through federal assistance.
“There have been some disaster declarations,” Stanford said. “Assistance programs have been made available due to the drought conditions in Texas.
On the FEMA Web site, Orange County falls under three secretarial designations, one ending in August (S3063), one in November (S3112) and the remaining in February of next year (S3122). To see these declarations for drought, excessive heat, high winds and wildfires, those affected can go to fema.gov and search declarations by county.