While Hurricane Harvey’s path hit largely populated areas (more than 2.3 million people live in Houston alone), more than 1.2 million beef cows also call the 54 counties that were declared a disaster area home.
“That’s 27% of the state’s cowherd,” said David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock economist in College Station. Since the numbers are from January’s USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service inventory report, “that’s a conservative estimate of beef cow numbers because 14 of those counties only have cattle inventory estimates.”
Click on the county to see cattle inventory numbers. Blue indicates the track Hurricane Harvey has followed, according to the National Hurricane Center (as of 8/29/17). Red indicates increased chances of precipitation due to Hurricane Harvey in the next five days, according to the National Weather Service (as of 8/29/17) (Christopher Walljasper/Farm Journal Media)
Flooding has severely hampered rescue efforts by ranchers. Thomas Swafford, public information officer with Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) said the first teams have just started to conduct animal assessments.
Members of the TAHC teams have various types of animal expertise, both large and small animal, so a wide variety of emergency/disaster response animal issues can be addressed. Its a committee that works all year around together to plan for such events, he adds. This includes pets, as well as livestock and horses.
TAHC Region 7 Inspector, Dusty Boullion is working with his local Animal Issues Committee in Lee County, Texas, conducting animal assessments and evacuations. (Texas Animal Health Commission)
This time of year many calves were close to being ready to market.
This month, cattle prices had trended lower, a pattern that usually happens earlier in the summer. Bloomberg reports cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange rose as much as 2.6% on Monday, reaching the highest price in almost three weeks.
The disaster area also includes several livestock auction markets and Sam Kane meat processing. Sanderson Farms Inc., the third-largest U.S. chicken processor, shut down its plant in Bryan, Texas, on Monday. Dean Foods Co. also closed an area factory, which makes fluid milk products, juices and teas, according to the company.
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