Texas Agriculture sidesteps effects of Hurricane Sandy


Nov. 6, 2012 at 5:06 a.m.

Hurricane Sandy left a path of destruction in her wake as she swept through the East Coast, but industry pros say her grasp will not likely extend to Texas agriculture.

Jeff Nunley, executive director of the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association, said he did not foresee any storm effects making their way to the Crossroads.

It's late enough into the season that crops, for the most part, were harvested, he said. And, while crop damage where the storm hit had the potential to affect market prices, he said even that came at a minimum.

New York's markets fell slightly after the storm, Nunley noted, but appeared to have leveled out.

Andy Vestal, a disaster preparedness and Texas AgriLife Extension specialist in College Station, said he had heard of soybean and cotton losses in the areas affected by the storm but did not know the number of acres affected.

If significant, it could have a fundamental impact on the markets, he said. Still, he said he thought the impact would be minimal - something more akin to what might happen if a hailstorm hit Lubbock.

Representatives from the Texas Department of Agriculture, in an emailed statement, agreed the storm's impacts would be limited throughout Texas.

Some analysts believe Sandy caused a short-term drop in beef demand, the email said, and that it contributed to recent declines in beef and cattle prices. Those same analysts, however, believe demand will come back stronger once individuals and restaurants begin restocking their freezers.

Initial concerns that the storm-damaged cotton crops in Virginia and the Carolinas helped boost cotton prices for several days, but the small amount of cotton grown within those regions would have little to no impact on supplies, according to the email.

It's also possible that broiler growers in the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia region might have experienced some losses, the email said. That could mean a rise in prices for Texas growers, although nothing is concrete.

"Overall, the losses are devastating for people in the immediate area of the storm, but will likely have minimal impacts on Texas agriculture," the email said.

As for the Crossroads, Nunley said the bigger issue was one unrelated to Hurricane Sandy - the fact that El Niño appears to have fizzled out.

"We had a lot of people around here hoping for a wet winter," he said. "I think that's our biggest impact."



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