Ag group urges Congress to remember rural areas as hurricane cleanup continues
September 5, 2017
With Congress set to return to Washington on Sept. 5, the president of the American Agricultural Movement called on Congress to be sure to provide assistance to farmers, ranchers and rural areas as the cleanup from Hurricane Harvey continues in Texas and Louisiana.
"It is now clear farmers and ranchers suffered tremendous losses from the storm," American Agricultural Movement President David Senter said in an email. "As Congress begins debate on an aid package, they need to help the rural towns and producers as well as the urban areas."
President Donald Trump said he will ask Congress for a disaster package, but the details of it are not yet clear. The House leadership advised members on Sept. 4 that the House will meet Sept. 6 to consider supplemental appropriations for disaster relief and the first votes will happen in the morning.
Senter added, "Most of the coverage is of Houston and the urban areas and as we all see from the coverage, lives and property are very much at risk or have already been lost. In my lifetime, I have never heard of a storm with the potential of dropping 50 inches of rain.
"I want to point out what's happening on our farms and ranches. Rural communities are without power and functioning infrastructure. There are over 1 million mama cows in the disaster area as well as other livestock. There are crops such as rice and cotton in the fields and for those that have completed cotton harvest their cotton modules are still in the flooded fields."
The grain export elevators are flooded in Galveston and Houston, but the extent of the damage won't be known until the storm is finished. Plus farmers, as will others, will have higher fuel prices due to closed and damaged oil refineries.
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Texas A&M University Agrilife Extension Service livestock economist David Anderson said in a news release there are more than 1.2 million beef cows in the disaster area, 27 percent of the state's cowherd.
"That's a conservative estimate of beef cow numbers because 14 of those counties only have cattle inventory estimates," Anderson said late last week.
Anderson noted since it is the end of summer, a lot of calves in the affected areas are either close or ready to be marketed. The disaster area also includes a large number of livestock auction markets and the Sam Kane Beef Processors plant in Corpus Christi.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on a cowpoke attempting to use a helicopter to herd cattle away from the water.