FORT WORTH, Sept. 15, 2008 – Members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) special ranger force are converging in southeast Texas to aid cattle raisers in the Gulf Coast area highly impacted by Hurricane Ike over the weekend. “We are glad the federal agencies, such as FEMA, are taking care of the human relief efforts. Our concern is for the ranchers and the cattle in that area and we are committed to providing help to the victims,” says TSCRA President Jon Means, Van Horn.
TSCRA efforts began last Friday before Hurricane Ike made landfall when TSCRA members were asked for help with vacant pastures and available feedstuffs.
“Pastures in Chambers and Jefferson Counties have been flooded with saltwater by the surge Hurricane Ike caused on Saturday,” says TSCRA First Vice President Dave Scott from Richmond, just 75 miles west of the affected counties. “We know our members in those two counties, plus Hardin and Liberty Counties, are responsible for more 40,000 head of cattle. The storm surge destroyed pastures and water supplies,” Scott says. “With no grazing land and no fresh water, it’s like those ranchers went into drought overnight.” Meanwhile, in the counties just to the north of Chambers and Jefferson, wide swaths of fencing and working pens have been destroyed and livestock are loose.
TSCRA is actively involved with the emergency response team, lead by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). The Texas AgriLife Extension Service (TAES) is the team member coordinating much needed resources for the affected areas.
Together with other livestock industry groups, they have established “Operation No Fences: Hurricane Ike Horse and Cattle Relief” to collect feed, hay and water troughs to provide the livestock with safe feed and water.
State agencies and agriculture groups have divided the enormous task of funneling supplies and materials to affected ranchers: To donate hay and feedstuffs contact the TDA Hay Hotline, 877/429-1998. To donate cash contact the Texas 4H Foundation, 979/845-1213, or visit http://AgriLifevents.tamu.edu To donate materials for fencing, panels, water troughs and other non-feed and non-cash donations contact TSCRA, 800/242-7820, ext. 147, Tim Niedecken.
The immediate need is for fresh water and water troughs. The storm surge swept away most troughs and working pens in the area. Ranchers are making do by snaring loose boats or any vessel to hold water and pulling them to higher ground for immediate use. The next immediate need is for hay and feedstuffs. Early reports indicate as much as 90 percent of the fencing in the affected area has been destroyed.
The Texas Animal Health Commission is coordinating carcass disposal with the National Resources Conservation Service. Reports of large numbers of dead animals should be made to the TAHC’s Area Command Center at 800/550-8242, ext 296. Callers will be asked to provide the location, approximate number and species of animal, and if, possible, the GPS coordinates of the site or the Premises Identification number.
TSCRA is a 131-year-old trade organization whose 15,000 members manage approximately 4 million head of cattle on 51.5 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma. TSCRA provides law enforcement services, livestock inspection, legislative and regulatory advocacy and educational opportunities for its members.