Area producers are beginning to focus on long-term recovery plans after wildfires devastated more than 480,000 acres across the Texas Panhandle earlier this month.
Thousands of hay bales, feed and wire from around the country have poured in to livestock supply points in Lipscomb, Pampa and Canadian. AfterLife officials are confident those donations are enough to feed cattle going forward, and they say it's time to shift gears.
Now that immediate relief efforts are winding down, AgriLife is beginning to close its livestock supply points. AgriLife Extension Regional Program Leader Danny Nusser said it's time to get some normalcy back for volunteers.
"Everyone that works at these three supply points, including our employees have been working 12, 14, 16 hours a day to keep these open. But at some point, we need an exit strategy," said Nusser.
AgriLife is now switching into long-term recovery mode and will schedule meetings to advise producers moving forward. Nusser also said the donations have been overwhelming and their next challenge is what they're going to do with all of the supplies. He says although the supply points won't be open 24/7, producers can still contact their local AgriLife office if they need supplies.
Supply points are no longer accepting hay and feed donations, and are instead focusing on fence repair. AgriLife officials said fencing is one of the most important needs for farmers and ranchers right now and that the damage to their property may take a year or two to replace.
AgriLife Extension Management Economist Steve Amosson said fencing is a primary concern.
"Right now, I've got it estimated at about $6 million to repair or replace the fence. Right now the estimate is 975 miles of fence that has been affected," said Amosson.
Amosson said several programs are available to help off-set some of the costs, such as the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). For information on other programs available and how to apply, visit the USDA website.