In a written testimony (http://www.agr.state.tx.us/vgn/tda/files/1848/25459_Testimony.pdf) submitted to a U.S. Congressional Joint Committee, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples highlighted the effects natural disasters have had on the Texas agriculture industry and the subsequent needs faced by this sector. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery, are conducting an analysis of recent disaster responses to determine methods for enhancement.

“Texas has suffered a major blow to its communities, infrastructure and agriculture economy because of Hurricanes Dolly and Ike,” Commissioner Staples said. “Texas producers have lost entire operations, with loss estimates reaching several hundred millions and an estimated economic impact in the billions.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and various Texas agricultural organizations have coordinated many successful relief efforts immediately following Hurricane Ike, including:

• Donation/delivery of more than 4,900 round hay bales;

• Donation/delivery of water troughs, panels, loading chutes and other livestock survival supplies;

• Designation of more than 5,000 acres of pastureland available for grazing;

• Donation of more than $100,000 for relief efforts; and

• Coordination and assistance with collecting, sorting and shipping cattle out of the region.

"This coordinated effort would not be possible without the many volunteers and dedicated agricultural industry associations who have exhibited tremendous leadership during this time of crisis,” Commissioner Staples said. “I am grateful for all the Texans who have responded in such a generous way to help with the needed items and monetary donations.

“We appreciate the federal government’s support and look forward to working with Congress to further address our state’s agriculture needs, which will include financial assistance for rebuilding livestock operations and dealing with land rehabilitation. We want Texas agricultural producers to feel confident we support them and will continue to assist them as the full impact of this storm is realized.”