State Drought Losses in the Billions

Texas is dry, too dry. Most of the state is experiencing a significant drought and it's hurting area ranchers and farmers.

Majority of Texas is in the midst of a two year drought. Texas Cooperative Extension economist, Dr. Carl Anderson, estimates drought losses have topped $4.1 billion in Texas alone.

"Three-fourths of all our ranch country, forge country, and hay country is now way behind average, 75 percent," said Anderson.

He says the drought started in March of 2005 and has affected most summer and winter crops.

"We've basically lost one-third to two-thirds of our major crops. We've lost two-thirds of winter wheat crops, we're losing almost half our cotton crop and we're losing corn as well as soy gum crop," he said.

The lack of rainfall is also impacting cattle ranchers, many of whom are now either moving their cattle out of state or selling off their livestock.

"When they liquidate their breeding herd, their beef cows, that'll eventually produce less beef," said Anderson.

According to Anderson, even if it rains now, it'll probably be too little, too late. He says the damage is already done to main crops, which means financial stresses for farmers and ranchers aren't far behind.

"They will find less income available to buy new machines and to buy supplies for the coming year," said Anderson. "We're going to find that the ag lenders are going to get more renewals, extensions and requests for new loans."

As Anderson tells it, this is a real battle with Mother Nature. Without substantial rainfall by the end of the year, the current drought could go down as the worst ever to hit Texas.