Recovering From 2011 Drought Could Take Years

Texas farms and ranches are in need rain, and lots of it. 

Agricultural experts say the 2011 drought has cost the industry more than $5 billion, and that number is rising.

It could take years for farmers and ranchers to bounce back from this dry weather. 

"Everybody always says that 1980 was a bad year, but I think this is worse than 1980," Denton County rancher Terry Bagley said. "There just ain't nothing this year."

Denton County Agricultural Extension Agent Eddie Baggs said hay and grazing pastures have been scorched, and the rebuilding process is not short. He said the long-term impact will be felt for at least four to five years after the drought. 

"The grasses that were depleted due to lack of rain and over-grazing of livestock because there wasn't anything else available, that is going to take years to re-establish. Especially the native grasses," Baggs said.

"Normally, you have plenty of grazing. We are feeding cattle like it is the middle of winter," Bagley said.

Another concern is the water supply. Stock tanks are drying up, leaving animals nothing to drink. Several good rainfalls are needed to fill them back up. "We need a good heavy one of them good gully washers," Bagley said.

The lack of water and rising cost of food and hay is forcing ranchers to sell their cattle, which will also affect ranchers for years to come. "We've had to sell off our breeding stock. We are not going to have any of the young females to come back and replenish the breeding herd," Baggs said.

The Denton County Texas Agrilife Extension will host a seminar Tuesday night at 6pm at Sanger High School to teach people how to deal with the drought conditions. It is free and open to the public. 

More: Agriculture Management During Drought Seminar

Contact Us