Farmers and Ranchers Need Our Help

The fences that kept livestock in were washed away when Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast on September 13. The animals that survived were moved to other parts of the state. Todd Staples is Commissioner of Agriculture for the state of Texas. He says ranchers are trying to move them back home but they're facing a variety of challenges.

"The economic crisis that we're facing has caused Ag commodities prices to plummet. So, you've had one catastrophe on top of another. They've had a triple whammy from the economic crisis, the disaster and the hurricane."

He says replacing the 17-hundred miles of fencing carries a hefty price tag:

"17-hundred miles times two-fifty a foot. There's 5,280 feet in a mile. Their rebuilding, the efforts, are in the millions of dollars."

Commissioner Staples joined other officials at Reliant Arena to plead his case on behalf of farmers and ranchers. Anahuac High School student Mallory Hisler's family is one of hundreds struggling to recover. She remembers the day after the hurricane hit:

"We saw horses caught in fences, goats hanging from trees, and cows in roads and under houses. Homes were destroyed everywhere. That day we lost our home; we lost our cattle; we lost our goats; we lost our horses; we lost all of our farming equipment; we lost all of our hay crop, 555 acres was submerged in salt water; and we lost our fences."

Commissioner Staples says volunteers and donations are badly needed in the recovery.

"We take for granted too many times, finding fresh milk and fresh produce and fresh meats in our grocery stores. It all starts on the farmξand farms have been devastated. And is the time when Americans can invest in themselves by investing in these farmers and ranchers. Ifξ you can't volunteer labor or hay or fencing material — donate ten dollars, twenty-five dollars. Whatever will go a long way toward this effort."

A fence building day is scheduled next month in the counties that were hardest hit. If you'd like to help, you can find more information at www.texasagriculture.gov and click on "Operation New Fences."
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Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News

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