Agriculture industry struggling to recover from drought - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Agriculture industry struggling to recover from drought

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Amarillo, Texas - The drought continues to cause big problems in the Texas panhandle.

Since the major drought in 2011 the agriculture industry has struggled to recover.

It's not looking any better, current forecasts call for the drought to continue or get worse in the panhandle.

The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension says right now conditions are extremely dry.

Without rain, forage for the cattle doesn't grow, leaving two options: ranchers can buy hay or feed, or sell off part of their herds.

The recent USDA crop progress report shows 40 percent of the state's pasture and range in poor to very poor condition.

Winter wheat conditions are continuing to decline.

As of January, cattle and calf numbers were at their lowest levels since 1967, with a drop of 11 percent in beef cattle from last year.

Earlier this year the Cargill Beef Processing Plant in Plainview closed, laying off 2,000 employees.

In order to help, the Texas Legislature recently approved funding for new water infrastructure, with $2 billion in seed money.

If voters approve the water funding, ten percent goes towards rural projects and another 20 percent towards conservation, which could be used towards agricultural projects.

But experts say it is still unclear how the water funding would solve challenges brought by drought in places like the panhandle.