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2011-09-01 digital edition

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2011-09-01 / Front Page

Texas Drought Losses for Farmers and Ranchers Reaches $5.2 Billion

Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline to offer hay pricing, listings for donated forage, transportation information and available grazing lands

As the worst one-year drought in Texas history continues to scorch the state and deplete critical hay supplies, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced several updates to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline. The service, which connects ranchers who need hay with those who have it, is now being updated to include prices and sources for donated hay. The Hay Hotline also now connects ranchers with transportation services to deliver hay and available grazing lands.

“Right now there is no pasture, no hay and no end in sight,” Commissioner Staples said. “The need for hay is dire and getting more desperate each day. Through the recent improvements made to the Hay Hotline, we hope to connect more ranchers with hay producers across the nation who have much-needed forage. It’s critical to do what we can to preserve the cattle herd for which Texas is known and on which American consumers rely.”

Commissioner Staples sent a letter to all commissioners and directors of agriculture in other states requesting assistance in locating hay donations for Texas ranchers. The letter also requests that available grazing land or hay be listed on the Texas Hay Hotline. Additionally, Commissioner Staples encouraged his colleagues to follow the Lone Star State’s lead in waiving transportation size restrictions for hay shipments in ways that continue to protect public safety.

These hay transportation waivers have become critically important during the current record-setting drought. According to AgriLife Extension, agriculture losses due to this year’s drought have already reached $5.2 billion and are now the costliest in state history for Texas farmers and ranchers. State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon declared this year’s dry spell the “most severe one- year drought on record,” while the National Weather Service is calling it the second-worst drought in Texas history.

The Hay Hotline can be accessed by visiting www.TexasAgriculture. gov/ hayhotline or by calling (877) 429-1998.

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