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Gov. Abbott requests USDA disaster designations

Gov. Abbott requests USDA disaster designations

Winter storm damage to the state’s ag industry is estimated to be in the millions

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Texas’ governor is asking the United States Department of Agriculture to help after winter storms have done significant damage to the state’s ag sector.

Greg Abbott sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Shea on Feb. 18 requesting disaster designations for counties affected by severe ice and freezing brought on by winter weather.

The designation would make federal assistance available.

Producers are among those affected by the winter storm.

The Texas Citrus Mutual show “Texas citrus sustained approximately $305.0 million loss to the crop in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties,” Gov. Abbott’s letter says.

The dairy sector is also feeling the effects of the storm.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has ordered rolling blackouts to prevent the state’s electric grid from failing.

These blackouts mean dairy processing facilities are operating with little or no power, which is causing issues along the production chain.

Processors “cannot get their natural gas so they can’t run their equipment, which is primarily their pasteurizers, because you have to heat milk up to pasteurize it,” Darren Turley, executive director of the Texas Association of Dairy, told KFDA. “Without that, they’re not able to process milk and some have been curtailed in their areas to not have any power to ensure the residents in the area still have heat.”

Beef producers have experienced losses because of the frozen conditions as well.

Frozen ponds have created water access challenges and the overall weather brought on by the storm has been fatal for some cows.

“Some of the older cows, it was too much stress on them,” Cade Nichols, a rancher from Celina, Texas, who lost six cows, told KFAA. “We’ve been fighting it.” has contacted members of the Texas ag community to discuss the aftermath of the winter storm and the governor’s request from the USDA.

Emholk/iStock / Getty Images Plus photo

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