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Agriculture Losses from Texas Wildfires Adding Up

In addition to the $5.2 billion in agricultural losses as a result of the drought in Texas this year, an additional $150 million in losses can be attributed to wildfires, according to state agriculture experts.

Dr. Andy Vestal, Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist and director for Homeland Security and Emergency Management Programs, said structures, equipment, livestock, fences, pasture and timber continue to be lost on a daily basis, as fires continue to break out during this prolonged drought.

Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension economist for livestock and food products marketing, estimated the loss is $152.1 million in agricultural financial losses through Sept. 19.

Anderson said damage to ranch and industry infrastructure represents the largest portion of fire losses. This infrastructure includes fences and agricultural buildings.

Almost 6,000 miles of fence are estimated to have been destroyed, he said. A recent survey by AgriLife Extension reported four- to six-wire fences with steel posts cost an average of $10,000 per mile to build.

Lost grazing for the year is the second largest non-timber financial loss category, Anderson reported, with almost 3 million acres burned through Sept. 19.

More than 1,500 cattle, horses, sheep and goats have been reported killed by this year’s fires, Vestal said. Livestock losses are estimated using market values. Livestock losses are likely underestimated due to later death loss from injuries incurred from the fires.

Another major contributor to the economic losses from the fires in East Texas – the Bearing, Dyer, Powerline, Bear Creek, Angelina and Riley Road fires – has been timber.

From Nov. 15, start of the current fire season, through Sept. 16, an estimated 2,151 wildfires has burned 207,763 acres in East Texas, according to the report. The estimated volume of timber lost is 175 million cubic feet with a stumpage or uncut value of $97 million, Vestal said.

This volume could have produced $1.6 billion worth of forest products which would have resulted in $3.4 billion in total economic activity in East Texas, he said.

Source: Texas AgriLife Extension Service


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