9th March 2021

US – Growers woes as big chill continues in Texas

Farmers and ranchers in the US south continue to assess the damage following the record-setting and deadly Arctic blast. Texas State agricultural officials say the cost of this storm will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Just our citrus industry, their loss of just the fruit, not including damage to trees, is over USD300 million and it will put a lot of our citrus growers out of business,” said Sid Miller, commissioner of agriculture in Texas. “Dairymen are going to go bankrupt and some of our poultry farmers, but this all could have been avoided.” The straight-talking Miller lamented over not just the arctic air’s disastrous impact on fruits, vegetables and livestock, but also the State’s own hand in worsening the crisis by not prioritizing agricultural processors.

He said his request to add agricultural processors to the critical infrastructure list still hasn’t been answered by Governor Greg Abbott, R-Texas. The State’s dairy industry has been particularly impacted as processors have gone without the power or natural gas needed to keep running.

Meanwhile, in South Texas, fruits and vegetables were already planted in the ground and on the tree. “You don’t ever think about a freeze in the Rio Grande Valley, but our citrus crop is basically wiped out,” said Miller. “All of our oranges are gone and 60% of our grapefruit.”  He says the other 40% would still be good enough to squeeze for juice but the processing plants that do it don’t have power.  He expects it will take three to four weeks to survey the damage and get a final tally, although the true impact may take longer to figure out.

Leo Espinosa, Sales Director, of Rio Grande Juice commented: “Remember that we just came from another event last Summer when Hurricane Hannah impacted the Texas Citrus Region, after the hurricane we lost about 30% of the Citrus crop, so this new freeze came to worsen the current conditions. We still don’t know yet about the impact of the freeze on next year crop, there will be for sure less fruit available due to the effect, however we still don’t know for sure how many trees were lost due to the freeze, more information can be confirmed within the next weeks to come.

“Customers have been supportive & thankfully we face this year with a favorable juice concentrate inventory scenario, however we don’t know for next year how our inventory levels position will be in the case we face a low crop and therefore a low processing season. I am sure there will be some sort of government support for the Texas citrus growers but nothing yet confirmed.”


By Caroline Calder News Share: