Agriculture Commissioner Addresses Drought Issue

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs made a glance at her watch when letting East Texans at a noon Rotary meeting in Nacogdoches know that at that very hour Texas ranchers and farmers were learning about application guidelines for federal drought assistance funding.   "They went to the Texas Registry at noon. We will have the application process start on the 29th,next week," said Combs.

216 Texas counties are eligible for their portion of $782 million from the United States Department of Agriculture.  To find out which counties, go to www.agr.state.tx.  You can then click on the Livestock Assistance Program.  Most East Texas cattlemen can qualify for a share of $16 million designated for operations that have sold breeding stock. That's been happening throughout Texas since July and August.   Combs said, "The runs for both months were up about 25% from the year earlier and those were mostly breeding stock."

The drought is also affecting the timber industry.   "Timber, obviously worries about will the trees grow, will the seedlings grow. We have our 15 year growth cycle, but for a lot of us we worry very much about wildfires. Between December 26, the day after Christmas and March we lost 4 million acres in Texas," said Combs.

Combs says she will fight for more federal assistance for all of Texas agriculture. "We understand for some people the drought hasn't quit. It's getting worse."

Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to stay in tune with latest developments on funding issues with their county extension agent and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.