Texas Seeks Federal Help for Farmers and Ranchers Impacted by Ike

September 19, 2008

Texas’ top agriculture official has asked his federal counterparts for money to help Southeast Texas ranchers and farmers deal with the long-term needs created by Hurricane Ike.

No dollar amount was specified but it will be in the “millions,” said Bryan Black, a spokesman for Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

“It’s forward thinking and focused on agriculture,” Black said. “He knows it’s going to take a lot to get this fixed.”

Crop acreage and pasturelands for cattle were inundated with seawater and it will take time to dilute the soil’s saline content.

Rain will help but not now, not after the storm surge and rains from Ike deluged the area.

“We’ll need some rain eventually to wash that salt out,” Black said.

The request to the U.S. Agriculture Department includes money for animal feed, protein feed cubes, access to federally protected lands with forage for grazing and haying, debris removal, rebuilding of fences, indemnity for livestock losses and help with carcass disposal.

Ag officials have said that about 4,000 cows died in the storm, which hit the Texas coast Sept. 13.

Staples wants a crop disaster program activated and money to help rehabilitate forest lands.

“I look forward to working with our federal partners to rebuild our state’s rural communities that have been impacted by this storm,” Staples said in a news release.

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