The Texas blizzard “Goliath” may have claimed more than 30,000 animals this week in Texas.
A statement obtained by Breitbart Texas from the Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD) says that the winter storm named Goliath “hit hard at the heart of the Texas dairy industry.”
The reduction in the state’s milk supply, and dairy and other financial losses, as well as the emotional impact on farmers of losing their animals, is enormous, says TAD Executive Director Darren Turley.
Turley said it wasn’t until Tuesday that many dairy producers in the area largely impacted by the storms – from Lubbock west to Muleshoe, Texas, and north to Friona – could gauge the impact by surveying their property.
Turley says that the region includes half of the state’s top ten milk producing counties which amounts to about 36 percent of the Lone Star state’s dairy cows – an estimated 142,800 cows. Turley estimates that about five percent of the mature dairy cows, and a yet-undetermined heifers and calves were killed. He expects losses to climb as farmers are able to survey the damage.
The TDA official said the next challenge will be how to handle this sudden and massive loss of animals. He said, “The ordinary methods for disposal cannot handle the volume of deaths we are seeing from this storm. The Texas Association of Dairymen is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and other agencies to determine how the animals can be disposed of both quickly and safely.”
The TAD is working with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and other state and federal agencies to determine whether financial assistance is available for impacted dairy farmers.
The TAD executive director said, “Like all agriculture, dairy producers always operate at the mercy of Mother Nature. With Goliath, she dealt a particularly harsh and costly blow to the area’s dairy producers, from the death of thousands of livestock they spend so much time caring for to a loss of milk production both over the weekend and in the future.”
Turley warned that the impact on the state’s milk supply will be continuing. He explained that during the storm, weather conditions and road closures kept dairy employees from milking the animals twice a day. The storm also prevented tanker trucks from transporting the milk from dairy to processor to farms. As a result, hundreds of loads of milk ready for processing was wasted, and cows on some farms went almost two days without being milked.
“When a dairy cow goes that long without being milked, her milk supply starts to dry up,” Turley said. “That means the dairy cows in this region will give less milk for months to come. Less milk going to market will be felt by consumers, as well as by dairy farmers.”
A message on the Association website said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with our Texas dairy producers.”
The Association says that affected dairy producers may qualify for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Indemnity Program.
Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2