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Crossroads agriculture could feel effects of West Texas fires

By ALLISON MILES
May 17, 2011 at 12:17 a.m.

Brandon Boughen, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for Potter County, spent the days after the Feb. 27 fire north of Amarillo counting the livestock lost.

FOR MORE INFORMATIONHave more questions about commodity prices or the effects the Crossroads might feel from the West Texas fires? The Texas AgriLife Extension Service might be able to help. For more information, visit http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu.

Raging wildfires that blazed through North and West Texas this year ravaged fields, displaced animals and affected area businesses.

But, when it comes to the farther-reaching effects - those closer to home for those who live in the Crossroads - things become a bit hazier. It's too early to know whether the Victoria area will feel effects of the fires.

Those most affected by the fires are, obviously, the West Texas farmers and ranchers and the nearby businesses, said David Anderson, livestock economist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in College Station.

Preliminary estimates bring the damage up to about $20 million, just from the fires between April 8 and 29 alone, he said. More reports keep rolling in from acres and fences burned.

"The largest part of that is infrastructure damage," he said. "Fences are very expensive to rebuild. A lot of times the cattle, if they have enough advance warning, can be moved or gotten out of the way."

Area businesses also suffered, he said, noting feed stores and similar companies aren't seeing customer flow they're used to.

Michael Hiller, Jackson County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, said he had not noticed any effects the fires had on the Crossroads.

The ongoing drought is a larger issue, he said. Although recent rains helped some, the crops still need moisture.

Commodity prices have not fluctuated significantly following the fires, but changes may be on the way, said Sam Womble, Victoria County extension agent for natural resources.

A large portion of North and West Texas lost cattle in the fires, he said, and much of the farm and rangeland experienced serious devastation. There's a chance that could eventually affect prices in the Crossroads.

"We could certainly feel the effect," he said. "It may be coming in the near future."

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