“Almost an entire state – including Karnes County – is officially classified in drought,” Zack said. “In fact, the seven-month stretch from October 2010 to April of this year was the driest on record. Only steady, abundant rain will get us out of this fix.”
The dry conditions this spring are a huge disappointment for local farmers and ranchers, as rain refused to fall and crops wither in the field. Ranchers are selling cattle because pastures are short and feed expensive. In addition, input cost for producing crops and livestock are at historic highs, increasing 85 percent since last year.
“Crop and livestock prices are high. But so are costs,” Zack said. “Yet we have little to sell.”
Zack said the situation could be more devastating than the drought of 2009, when farmers and ranchers across the state suffered direct losses of $4 billion.
“Although it’s too early to speculate, farmers and ranchers would have a hard time overcoming that kind of loss two times in three years,” he said.
He noted agriculture is a positive force in Karnes County, providing jobs and supporting local businesses. It has also been a positive force nationally, helping pull the U.S. out of recession.
“Drought is serious business for everyone,” Zack said. “The only relief is rain.”