$152 million in ag losses to Texas wildfires

$152 million in ag losses to Texas wildfires  

28 September 2011

published by www.businessweek.com

USA — Enough fencing to cross Texas from east to west nearly seven times, more than 1,500 head of livestock and swaths of pasture nearly twice the area of Delaware have burned in Texas wildfires this year.

As if the state’s crippling drought hadn’t banged up Texas agriculture enough, experts with Texas AgriLife Extension Service said Wednesday the wildfires continue to burn through the dried remains on a daily basis.

David Anderson, an economist with the service, estimated Texas agriculture lost $152.1 million through Sept. 19. The bulk of that total comes from the 5,965 miles of fences and other infrastructure that burned. Second are the nearly three million acres of scorched pasture.

That all comes on top of the estimated $5.2 billion lost to crops and livestock from the drought in Texas. It has been the worst single-year drought on record and more than four-fifths of Texas is in exceptional drought.

Since wildfire season started on Nov. 15, 2010, officials say firefighters have responded to 23,519 fires. And there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

The Texas Forest Service said this week that the wildfire danger would continue through fall and possibly into winter. Below average moisture and above average temperatures are predicted through the end of the year.

Timber losses have also been huge in East Texas where more than 200,000 acres or $97 million of timber have burned since the start of wildfire season last November.

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