MERCEDES, Texas (ValleyCentral) — According to the Valley Storm Team, Hidalgo County has seen drought conditions since the beginning of March.
Although conditions have improved with the rain the Rio Grande Valley got two weeks ago, there needs to be another in the next 30 days to help with farming which is not likely.
For those who grow cotton, drought conditions began as the growing season started.
England Farms and Cattle Company owner, Michael England told ValleyCentral commodity prices started climbing heading into the growing season. “That means the hope that we finally have a chance to make some money out of a crop.”
However, the reality of drought began to settle in with England and he quickly realized this season would not be what he had hoped for.
“We just don’t have the water to grow it and just to put the seed out there and all the costs associated with it with the hope I can make some sort of crop, it’s not worth it to me this year,” he said.
England said the rainfall from a couple of weeks ago got the ball rolling on his crops, but to at least break even on costs, he needs one to two more.
Without the rainfall, England among other farmers is having to rely on their irrigation district for a lifeline, but England claims most of the RGV’s water districts are without water.
England oversees about 5,000 acres of land, but of that, he has only been able to seed less than a quarter of that.
England’s moneymaker crops include cotton, milo, and sugar cane. Of the seeded land he currently has, a tenth of that is cotton.
Because it has gotten worse than England had anticipated, he has applied for crop insurance, but he said it’s not the “best alternative” as it may not cover the cost of equipment and land.
England said he also doesn’t believe the crop insurance will help as much as he needs as he has seen everything he needs to power his farm triple, if not quadrupled in price.
According to England, the transport of fertilizer cost roughly $10,000 a year ago. He said today, the same transport is costing him between $40,000 and $45,000.
The chemicals necessary to farm are also not available as of right now. If it were, England claimed a 275-gallon tote was costing around $2,500, but now costs between $12,000 and $15,000.
England said his financial struggles also fall in the fuel realm as he was filling tanks at $1.67 per gallon last year, but now he’s paying over $4.
“All those input costs, I don’t think there’s a way for commodity prices to off-put those input costs,” stated England.
England said he believes his situation is “lose, lose” and there “will be no profit this year.”
To diversify his income, England grows a multitude of other crops as well as raising Brahman cattle.
England is set to have his third annual “largest polled Brahman event of the year” on May 21.
There will be a live sale at the ranch in Mercedes at 13228 Mile 2 E. Rd. For online bidding, click here.
England isn’t alone. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service reports that annual droughts typically wipe out thousands of acres across the state. A specific number of losses was not able to be estimated.
Frank Escobedo with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service said though, protection from a drought starts with expenses.
Escobedo suggested limiting expenses with equipment, fertilizer, and fuel.
By limiting expenses may result in sacrificing an economic boost.
“You have your restaurants, your hotels, motels, your farmhands, you have other retail establishments where people go buy things. There’s an economic impact in every area of commerce,” said Escobedo.
It extends beyond those areas as well as it has been seen to impact trucking and fuel industries as well.
Escobedo mentioned Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offering a workshop to help farmers better understand how to prepare for a drought as well as have a better comprehension of the crops they’re growing. For more information, click here.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is striving to help farmers out more this year.
According to the AP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said drought during the growing season has made farmers in most of Texas, all of Louisiana, and parts of Arkansas and Mississippi eligible to apply for federal aid.
The department’s low-interest emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of equipment and livestock. They can also be used to reorganize a farming operation or finance certain debts.
The agency will consider the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.
For more information on the Brahman auction, contact Benton England at 956-373-1886.