U.S. Water News Online
BRYAN, Texas -- The financial toll of Texas' long-running
drought has risen to $820 million and could soon slow the state's
booming economy, Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs says.
The commissioner told Brazos Valley farmers and ranchers that
losses to producers will have a ripple effect in the rest of the
``It's the cumulative effect (of droughts in) 96, 98, 99, 2000,
and there is tremendous concern about where agriculture will be in
the next year,'' she said. ``It's very, very serious and I'm trying
to remind folks in the cities that if agriculture in Texas hurts
they'll feel the pain, too.
``It makes a real difference if you've got every small town
struggling because the farmer and rancher doesn't have the spare cash
to do things,'' Combs said.
The drought could cost producers $1 billion this year, Combs said
Texas A & M agricultural experts are estimating. Dry weather has
cost the industry more than $4 billion since 1996.
Sales tax revenues will plunge if farmers and ranchers have no
money to spend, hurting schools.
``It ripples and ripples and ripples,'' Combs said.
Rains have done little to slow this year's drought, which has kept
reservoirs in many parts of the state at low levels. Thirsty towns
have had to pipe water in from neighboring communities because their
own lake levels are too low to provide safe drinking water.
The drought has heightened the danger of brush and forest fires
The agriculture department's Go Texan program, which markets
products made in the Lone Star State to other states and abroad,
could give farmers and ranchers needed economic assistance.
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