Survey Shows Impact of Drought on Texas Ranchers
The worst one-year drought on record is affecting ranchers in the Southwest, however a recent survey conducted by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) shows TSCRA members are actively implementing a variety of strategies to adapt to the current climate.
According to TSCRA's Drought Impact Survey, 84 percent of respondents indicate they have reduced their herd size from their three-year average.
Herds were reduced by an average 38 percent. However, those numbers don't reflect a 38 percent decrease in the overall size of the herd in Texas.
While a lot of those cattle have changed hands, said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and TSCRA president, relatively few have moved out of state.
The survey indicates that individual herds were reduced through livestock market sales, early placement into feedyards, moving cattle to unused pastures or dry lots or sending older cows to harvest.
"These numbers indicate that the drought is certainly taking its toll on ranchers, but they also indicate that the industry is adapting to the weather," said Parker. "If there is a silver lining to the drought, it may be that this has allowed us to see just how diverse the beef industry truly is."
According to the survey, 8 percent of respondents indicate they will no longer own cattle in 2012, though many indicate this is only a temporary measure. No respondents indicated they plan to permanently exit the cattle business.
"Ranchers are committed to providing Americans with safe and healthy beef, and we will continue to do so-come rain or shine," said Parker. "We've lived through droughts before and no doubt we will face them again. Rain will come and when it does, you can bet ranchers will rebuild their herds and the industry will come back stronger than ever."