Wildfires burning across Texas are hurting rural areas that rely on agriculture

Forest fires burning through Texas are not only devastating houses, they also negatively affect agriculture, especially in rural areas.

One of the largest wildfires still burning is the Eastland Complex Fire, which consists of several wildfires between Fort Worth and Abilene. It is now mostly contained.

Monty Dozier, director of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service‘s Disaster Assessment and Recovery Program, told the Texas Newsroom that the Eastland Resort Fire had burned more than 54,000 acres, mostly in the Eastland County area.

Texas A&M Forest Service


Steaming hay bales near Carbon, TX.

“So right now with the pastures completely burned, and we’re talking about an area of ​​probably 75 square miles that’s been burned, and a lot of that is major cattle grazing areas in this county,” said Dozer. “So we are looking at a time that it will take to rehabilitate them, to re-green them, to refresh them so that these cattle can come back.

It is estimated that approximately 1,000 cattle were affected by the fire at the Eastland complex. That’s according to Luke Fritts, the project manager for Red Chain Foods – Gorman Milling. His company sells hay, animal feed and other supplies to farmers and ranchers in Eastland County.

“Some of them got burned, I hate to even say it, but some of them died, you know, there’s a lot between not having hay and then also trying to get care. vets for some of these cattle here,” Fritts said.

So far, Fritts said the area has received help, including from out of state. And veterinarians from across Texas arrived to help treat livestock struggling with different wildfire-related issues.

“Whether it’s a respiratory problem because of all the ash and dirt getting into their [cattle] lungs as they try to eat, or you know, burns on their skin and hooves, burnt hooves,” Fritts added.

In addition to Red Chain Feeds and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas Department of Agriculturethe Texas Animal Health Commissionand the Southwest Texas Cattlemen’s Association work together to coordinate donation efforts. AgriLife’s Dozier said they are currently asking for donations of hay, feed and fencing. Some local depot sites have already received hay.

This is certainly a situation where our neighbors and friends need help after losing some if not all of their livelihoods.

-Monty Dozier, Director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Disaster Assessment and Recovery Program

“These donations will go directly to those in need as soon as possible,” Dozier added, in a statement. “This is certainly a situation where our neighbors and friends need help after losing some, if not all, of their livelihoods.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture has also established a relief fund for monetary donations through the agency. STAR Fund Disaster Relief.

Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

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