In west Texas, where drought-stricken ranchers are selling cattle out of desperation and out of worry that the worst is yet to come, optimism diminishes daily.
Drought Monitor reports that 97% of the state is under drought conditions. Although farmers may, in principle, bring in hay from other regions to feed their cattle, sky-high energy prices make transporting hay prohibitively expensive. According to Local Profile, as a result, the herds are being reduced, “Last week, USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey reported that 80 percent of Texas’ pastures were in either poor to very poor conditions.”
“Millions of cattle went to slaughter strictly because of the drought because they had nowhere else to go,” rancher Jon Taggart said in a comment to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, according to Local Profile.
CBS reports that at the Decatur Livestock Market, vehicles were reportedly backed up a mile in each direction, as reported by the market’s owner, Kimberly Irwin.
The number of 2,600 animals unloaded was the most since the 2011 drought.
“I don’t think it can break quick enough to save me, to tell the truth,” Springtown resident Lee McLachlin said.
Irwin stated that ranchers had a difficult choice: sell now or risk animals becoming thinner and producing even less income.
Irwin stated, “You know, you want to hang on, but it’s just hard.”
KLTV-TV quotes Emory auctioneer Bryan Forester as saying that ranchers are cutting their herds.
Cattle in Texas are being sold at Emory Livestock Auction because of drought …
There will be less meat or none this fall and winter at the grocery stores pic.twitter.com/4HPt9Caf0u
— Carol Ray (@CarolRay502000) July 10, 2022
“Drought, fertilizer prices, hay prices, lack of water. Lot of different things factoring in right now,” he stated.
Tracy Tomascik of the Texas Farm Bureau remarked, “It’s culminated into an unfortunate set of circumstances that farmers and ranchers are having to deal with.”
According to the Texas Tribune, cotton farmer Lloyd Arthur, who farms property 30 miles outside Lubbock, knows all about it.
“We can’t outfox what Mother Nature sends us,” Arthur said. “2022 has been one for the record books. We’ve always compared years to 2011, as far as droughts and whatnot, but 2022 is worse. We don’t have any underground moisture.”
“Planting time came and we got a few rains, but they were short-lived rain events,” Arthur said. “It kind of gave us a little false hope. We were so dry, with no moisture underneath, that a lot of the rain did run off.”
“At this point, we’re at triple digits, 20-miles-per-hour winds with humidity — there’s no way this crop can sustain this much longer,” Arthur said.
On some roads near livestock auctions, cattle trailers are lined up as far as you can see. Ranchers are selling cattle because of drought-stricken pastures, a shortage of hay and lack of water.
Read more: https://t.co/sugXXQAnFA
Photos by Emory Livestock Auction, Inc. pic.twitter.com/IkXTjmENdH
— Texas Farm Bureau (@TexasFarmBureau) July 13, 2022
More on th§is story via The Western Journal:
Victor Murphy, climate service program manager for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said a drought like that one that hammered Texas in 2011 could be hitting the state.
“It’s a valid fear right now,” said “I’ve been holding off saying that for a while, because parts of the state had good rainfall in May. But seeing June be as dry as it’s been, we’re actually running ahead of 2011 right now.”
“If you go long enough without any rainfall, the ground becomes bone dry,” Murphy said. “So whatever heat comes down, it just radiates back up. I think the state of Texas as a whole right now is very susceptible to that, and that’s what happened in 2011 too.”
Texas is not alone. An estimated 10,000 Kansas cattle died last month as temperatures in the state soared past 100 degrees, according to a report by Progressive Farmer magazine.