U.S. Water News Online
RANCHO PIEDRAS, Mexico -- The worst drought in half a
century has both farmers and ranchers in Mexico -- not unlike their
counterparts in the American Southwest -- struggling to survive
against terrible odds.
But south of the border, the suffering is often greater. Small
farms still prevail over big agribusiness here, and the social safety
net is much weaker than in the United States.
Independent estimates indicate Mexican crop and cattle losses
could reach more than $1 billion. The Mexican government has
allocated $157 million in drought relief.
Still, many are just scraping by. "There is no water. There is no
rain anymore," said cattle rancher Bruno Trevino, whose herd has been
drastically reduced and now survives on whatever cactus they can
>From the air, large swaths of Mexico's northern countryside
look like a gray moonscape of burned-out corn and grain fields. Only
the green cactus and mesquite trees provide contrast.
"The drought is the worst since 1953. It is very harsh, very
severe," said Agriculture Secretary Francisco Labastida Ochoa.
The drought began three years ago. This year, Mexico has received
an average of only 2 inches of rain, 77 percent below normal. The
north has had much less, and many areas have had none.
Ochoa said 98 million acres of grazing land, mostly in northern
Mexico, have stopped growing grass and many cattle have lost 60 to
100 pounds. Some 1.6 million acres of prime farmland have gone idle.
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