The low temperature led to the death of animals and the lack of natural gas and electricity in some areas, which paralyzed part of the industry
The intense cold that hit the southern United States this month caused losses of hundreds of millions of dollars to the agricultural sector. Farmers are still calculating the loss after days of snow and negative temperature records in parts of Texas and other southern states.
The resulting increase in the consumption of electricity and natural gas generated supply problems and led to the forced closure of animal feed and processed milk factories, causing a state of calamity in an important meat and fruit producing region.
The chicken meat processor Sanderson Farms sacrificed 545 thousand chicks that could not be sent to the farms due to the dangerous conditions of the roads, and 455 thousand chickens died due to the low temperatures, the scarcity of water and feed and the collapse of structures with the weight of the snow. The number of eggs lost was 703 thousand.
For Texas orange and grapefruit growers, which is the country's third largest citrus grower, the winter was catastrophic. The intense cold destroyed 98% of the current harvest of Valencia orange and 55% of grapefruit, according to Dale Murden, a citrus producer and president of the Texas Citrus Mutual organization. Murden says these losses total about $ 78 million.
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The cold also prevented many trees from blooming, destroying three-quarters of the next crop and totaling another $ 225 million in damages, according to an estimate by Texas Citrus. "I have two crops on the tree that are basically dead," he says.
Agricultural losses prompted Texas Governor Greg Abbott to request the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster area designation last week, which allows Texan farmers to take emergency loans and other types of aid. .
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller estimated that climate losses in the state's agricultural sector could exceed $ 500 million. Dairy producers in the state are expected to lose $ 30 million to $ 40 million after discarding about 53 million liters of milk in the fields, says Miller, as factories could not process milk after losing access to natural gas .
Milk producers have also lost part of their cows to the cold. According to Miller, the low temperature left dairy cows with breasts frozen on a Texas farm, forcing the producer to sell them to slaughterhouses. In Oklahoma, about 15% of newborn calves have been lost, according to estimates by the State Department of Agriculture.
While insurance can cover some losses, Murden says that some climate-affected farmers may end up opting out of agriculture. Once an orange tree is planted, he says, it may be five years before it bears enough fruit to produce a stable income. "The insurance was not designed to offer full compensation after such a disaster," he adds.
Source: Estadão Content