Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drought Losses Set Staggering Record of $5.2 Billion

As we feared, the worst single-year drought in Texas history has devastated our agriculture community to the staggering tune of $5.2 billion in losses, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

These losses exceed the previous record of $4.1 billion incurred during the drought of 2006 and can be attributed to the punishing combination of drought and record-setting temperatures that have caused hay shortages, dwindling herds and lost or severely damaged crops. The end result has been a dry spell that recently surpassed the one of 1918, making our current crisis the second-worst drought in the history of the Lone Star State.

These have been extraordinarily tough times for our farmers and ranchers, but you know what happens when the going gets tough — survivors always outlast adversity. While we are seeing the weathering on the faces and in the hearts of Texas farmers and ranchers, I’m confident the folks who provide us with safest, most affordable and most abundant food supply in the world will refuse to wilt beneath the brutal heat.

I continue to pray for rain in order to provide relief for our farmers and ranchers. May they continue to fight the good fight on behalf of all Texans who rely on their hard work every day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Texan Makes ‘Super Committee’ Sense

Americans have no choice but to live within their means and our federal government should have to live by the same standard. Raising taxes is not the answer for the same reason American taxpayers and businesses cannot simply increase their income in today’s economy to make ends meet. The focus must be on the cost side of the ledger.

I am proud U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) has been appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to co-chair the deficit reduction “super committee.” No major economic recovery plan to benefit the future of our country would be complete without a fiscally responsible Texan perspective.

Hensarling has consistently demonstrated discipline and thoughtfulness during his service to our state and country. He knows what Texans know— you cannot spend more than you make.

While some have been critical of Hensarling’s appointment because of his committed conservative philosophy, that’s the exact reason I am wholly convinced he is right for the job. Politics will always be debatable at the end of the day, but it’s hard to argue with the fact the best results are achieved through a merging of philosophies.

As the markets have shown us, we must pick a course, exercise maturity and lead our country back to private-sector job growth and fiscal sanity. Hensarling understands this and can play a major role in our country’s debt solution.

Everyone will not agree with all the budget-cutting recommendations this bipartisan super committee will offer. However, we all should agree that not fixing the problem tastes worse than the bitter pills that can lead to a cure.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jobs for Texans

The Lufkin Daily News has published a guest column I wrote about broadband technology and how it will increase jobs in Texas. You can read it here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It’s Official: Texas is Suffering Worst One-Year Drought on Record

Farmers and ranchers had HARSH REALITIES confirmed today when State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon declared this the “most severe one-year drought on record” and the hottest July in the history of the Texas.

The extreme heat and unprecedented dry weather have crippled agricultural operations in Texas, upon which all Americans rely for food, fuel, clothing and other daily necessities. Our state’s farmers, ranchers and economy have already lost billions of dollars. Sadly, those losses are far from final as we continue to survey the damage and face a punishing forecast, promising little or no rain.

As our farmers and ranchers struggle to feed their livestock, I cannot stress enough the dire need for forage to sustain the No.1 cattle herd in the nation. Unfortunately, there are many miles between drought-parched Texas and available hay supplies. Thankfully, other states are joining with us in this effort. States like Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have already relaxed oversized load restrictions for hay to expedite the delivery of hay to the Lone Star State. While we are grateful those wheels are turning, the Texas Department of Agriculture continues to seek other statewide partnerships and opportunities to help rescue this year’s herd.

The brutal heat and lagging economy are a devastating one-two punch. We may be down, but we’re not out, because after all, we are Texans. Let’s continue to seek relief for our farmers and ranchers who are the backbone of our economy and daily sustenance. Their losses are everyone’s losses.

Let’s pray for rain and remain optimistic during these tough times. As I keep telling myself, another day without rain brings us closer to one with rain.

To read Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon’s report, click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thanks to Louisiana For Helping Drought-Stricken Texas

Rather than being the life of the party last weekend, Tropical Storm Don was instead a no-show, leaving Texas to continue choking on record-breaking heat and historical drought conditions. Folks, I’ve never seen Texas so dry.

Thankfully, our neighbors in Louisiana are gracing us with some much-needed relief in the form of hay bales being trucked to Texas farmers and ranchers who are desperately trying to feed their dwindling herds. In a gesture of goodwill that is nothing short of a blessing, Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain announced an executive order waiving size restrictions and permitting fees on oversized loads of hay en route to Texas. I’d like to extend my thanks and gratitude to Commissioner Strain and the Louisiana farmers, truckers and others who are rushing to our rescue.

It was reported just last week that this year’s drought stands to be the most costly in state history for Texas farmers and ranchers. The devastation is unprecedented, but the spirit of giving remains unbroken.

As you read this, I am diligently seeking partnerships and opportunities with other states to provide relief to the hardworking Texas farmers and ranchers who have suffered more than their share this year. I am grateful for the commitment of not only Commissioner Strain, but also of Wyoming Director of Agriculture Jason Fearneyhough who has said his state will pitch in to help Texans.

We truly appreciate the kindness of our colleagues and others who know what it is like to herd cattle and bail hay. With their help, we will continue to press on; and let’s keep praying for rain.