Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Today I traveled to Houston where Astros left fielder Carlos Lee, his wife Mary, and I took an aerial tour of the area damaged by Hurricane Ike. The storm’s impact on agriculture is staggering, with direct and indirect losses totaling several hundred million dollars. Many producers are left with croplands that will not be productive for one to possibly two years. Others have lost their entire operations, possibly forever. We need to do what we can to assist these Texans.
Lee raises Brahman cattle on his Texas ranch, and feels a strong connection to other agricultural producers. He says after viewing the massive destruction up close, he understands the hardships his fellow ranchers and the Texas agriculture industry now face.
"It's one thing to see it on the news and a whole different thing to see it live," Lee said. "It was hard. As a rancher I understand it's not easy to be in the cattle business. A lot of cattle are dead. Some people are coming back and seeing that all they worked for is destroyed."
Lee wants to help agricultural producers get back on their feet and he demonstrated his commitment by donating $25,000 to assist Texas farmer and ranchers as they recover.
Last week, I made an official request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for assistance with future agricultural and rural restoration. While I’m hopeful Texans will receive federal assistance, Lee and I both ask you to take action now and help the people who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs – our fellow farmers and ranchers.
I want to remind everyone that a foundation has been created through the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to help fund some of the recovery efforts. To donate, visit agrilifevents.tamu.edu.
The Texas Farm Bureau has posted some pictures of Hurricane Ike’s devastation on its Web site to further demonstrate the need for your help. Click here to see the photos.