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Climate warning

Texas Panhandle Wildfires Wreak Havoc on the State’s Agriculture Industry

For the past week, the Texas Panhandle has been covered in flames. The ongoing inferno—the largest wildfire in the state’s history—has burned up nearly 1.3 million acres of land, and firefighters have only managed to contain 15 percent of it as of Sunday. The state government is currently investigating the initial cause of the fire. But scientists say that a combination of abnormally high winter temperatures, low relative humidity and strong winds—conditions becoming more common with climate change—is what transformed the region into a tinderbox and enabled the flames to spread uncontrollably. People and animals in the state’s agricultural industry have been among the hardest hit. “Dead Animals Everywhere”: The Texas Panhandle is dominated by rangeland, where millions of beef cattle graze on dry shortgrass and other prairie plants. When temperatures and winds picked up in the final days of February, “all it took was a spark to start a wildfire,” writes Karen Hickman, a grassland ecologist at Oklahoma State University and president of the Society for Range Management, in the Conversation. Livestock producers and ranchers scrambled to evacuate their cattle, but some were forced to cut their fences and let the cows run free to flee from rapidly approaching flames. Last Wednesday, Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson of the state’s 13th District posted a video after witnessing the destruction from the sky during a helicopter survey, remarking that there were “dead animals everywhere.” Though total losses have not yet been reported, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said on Thursday that he predicts 10,000 cattle will have died or will need to be euthanized since many will likely have had their hooves or udders burned off. Compounding the problem, fires have also devastated agricultural infrastructure, the Texas Tribune reported. “The fires have left little food or water for livestock. Some farmers lost everything. Property fences are gone. Hundreds of miles of power lines have burned, leaving no electricity to pump water from wells—which farmers rely on to hydrate their cattle,” writes Alejandra Martinez for the Tribune. These losses could be catastrophic for the agricultural industry in the Panhandle, which holds over 85 percent of the state’s cattle population and contributed $186.1 billion to Texas’ economy in 2021. The industry was already in a difficult state following intense droughts last year that forced ranchers across Texas and the country to reduce their herd size, which is expected to decrease national beef production by about 24.7 billion pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And scientists say this unprecedented fire is just a sign of more to come, which David Wallace-Wells discusses in a recent opinion piece for the New York Times. Hay Delivery: Though ranchers who lost cattle in the fires are not eligible for FEMA disaster aid, they can apply for emergency state recovery grants, and some relief funds from the Texas Department of Agriculture. In the meantime, ranchers in surrounding communities and other states have stepped up to lend a helping hand. Yesterday, farmers from Barber County, Kansas, led a contingent of semis, trucks and trailers stuffed to the brim with hay bales across the Texas border for donation, and ranchers from across the state have made their own hay contributions to those affected in the Panhandle. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/05032024/todays-climate-texas-wildfires-agriculture-cattle/

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  • Ann Nyambura

    3 w

    My thoughts are with the affected communities and the brave firefighters working tirelessly to contain the inferno.

    3
    • johnte ndeto

      3 w

      @ann_nyambura_542 measures ought to be put in place to curb future inferno

      2
    • George Kariuki

      5 w

      This is heartbreaking! Texas wildfires causing massive devastation to the agricultural industry. We need to act on climate change to prevent these disasters from becoming the norm.

      4
      • johnte ndeto

        3 w

        @george_kariuki Advocacy, policy changes, and sustainable practices can all play a part in addressing this urgent issue.

        2
      • Chris Ndungu

        6 w

        This is absurd! it is paining to imagine huge area like that one been affected by fire as we are working tirelessly to ensure our planet is safe, How?. Texas government should do something on this.

        7
        • CHRIS NGATIA

          5 w

          @chris_ndungu it's very absurd!!!

          2
          • johnte ndeto

            3 w

            @chris_ndungu It's indeed distressing to witness the impact of wildfires on communities and agriculture.

            2
          • Elizabeth Gathigia

            6 w

            This situation is really devastating, Texas government should see this as a case of emergency, it should find the root cause and the solutions as well to prevent this disaster from happening in the future

            3
            • johnte ndeto

              3 w

              @elizbeth_gathigia Taking action on climate change is crucial to mitigate such disasters and safeguard our environment and livelihoods..

              2
            • Munene Mugambi

              6 w

              Wildfires should be a thing of the past. Texas has enough resources to predict these events and stop them before they become catastrophic. Their reluctant attitude to do this is unacceptable

              3
              • johnte ndeto

                3 w

                @munene_mugambi The devastation caused by wildfires in Texas highlights the urgent need for conscious action on climate change.

                2
              • Felix mokaya

                6 w

                Texas government should consider this as a state of emergency and drop actions which will help to deal with this disaster .It is very painful to hear that over 10000 livestock have died due to this fire outbreak .

                12
                • Munene Mugambi

                  6 w

                  @felix_mokaya They have enough manpower and enough resources to be better prepared towards dealing with an issue that has persisted for decades without any real actionable steps being taken to curb it.

                  3
                  • johnte ndeto

                    3 w

                    @felix_mokaya It's essential to recognize the interconnectedness of environmental health and human well-being

                    2
                  • Princess

                    6 w

                    It's heartbreaking to see the damage these wildfires are causing to Texas's agriculture. The impact on farmers and ranchers is truly distressing.

                    4
                    • johnte ndeto

                      3 w

                      @princess_nel_268 Let's work together to protect our planet for current and future generations.

                      1
                    • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

                      6 w

                      This is nothing but a painful reality of the effects of climate change.I completely agree with the findings of scientists on the cause of the fire.

                      12
                      • johnte ndeto

                        3 w

                        @rukia_ahmed_abdi and it's time we settle for the reality

                        1
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