Texas storm caused at least $600M in farm losses

The U.S. and Texas flags fly in front of high voltage transmission towers on Feb. 21 in Houston, Texas. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS

The severe winter storm that knocked out Texas’ power grid last month also caused at least $600 million in damages to farms in the state, according to preliminary estimates from the Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension Service.

Extension economists projected losses from the deep freeze at $230 million in citrus, $228 million in livestock and $150 million in vegetable crops, according to a statement on Tuesday.

Arctic weather left many Texas homes and businesses without heat and electricity. Some just-born calves died after exposure to the cold, while citrus crops were ravaged in the state that produces about a third of U.S. grapefruit. Farmers in the Rio Grande Valley may have lost more than 60% of their grapefruit crop and virtually all of their Valencia orange crop, extension economist Luis Ribera said.

Damaged plants will need time to be replaced, while cows that lost calves will not be able to give birth to another one for months, meaning that the damages will linger.

“Freezing temperatures and ice killed or harmed many of their crops and livestock as well as causing financial hardships and operational setbacks,” Jeff Hyde, extension director at Bryan-College Station, said in a statement. “And the residual costs from the disaster could plague many producers for years to come.

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