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In Response to Drought, State Ramps up "Hay Hotline"

Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News
Crops are dying in the fields in Texas, due to extreme heat and drought. That means little feed for livestock. It all adds up to an agricultural catastrophe.

Ranchers are suffering through the worst one-year drought in Texas history. Many have given up trying to feed their cattle and are bringing them to auction at double, or even triple the normal rate.  For those holding on to their livestock, finding affordable feed is a growing challenge.

To help ranchers the Texas Department of Agriculture is updating it's Hay Hotline, according to a media release from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. 

The service, which connects ranchers who need hay with those who have it, is now being updated to include prices and sources for donated hay. The Hay Hotline also now connects ranchers with transportation services to deliver hay and available grazing lands.

The Department hopes that faster, easier access to feed for livestock may allow some ranchers to weather the drought with cattle intact.

It's been estimated that the cost of beef could skyrocket in coming years, as the high number of cattle being slaughtered now mean less beef in the near future. 

The Texas AgriLife Extension estimates that agriculture losses caused by the drought have already reached $5.2 billion - a number that's sure to climb as long as the dry weather continues.

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