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Governor Abbott declares state of disaster in 17 counties, including Bell, due to drought conditions

Posted at 9:56 AM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 19:55:18-05

Governor Abbott declared a state of disaster in 17 counties due to drought conditions. One of those counties was Bell.

25 News met with ranchers in Holland to discuss the impact of the drought.

At Darr's Creek Ranch, Dalton and Brenda Merz breed Black Angus cattle.

They say drought conditions have dried up their profits and they have lost about 30 percent of the production they would normally get.

"When the pond and creek dry up, we have to rely on a shallow water well which is only 20 feet deep, 2011 it went dry,” explained Dalton. “So we had to rely on the Jarrell water system. It's very expensive water."

Plus, when grass stops growing, they have to move their cattle to better pastures.

"In fact, we've cut the heard nearly in half last year because of the dry situation," said Dalton.

During droughts, ranchers find other ways to feed their cattle.

At Darr’s Creek, they use cotton seed, but other ranchers have to buy hay which can cost anywhere from $75 to $150 per bale.

They say not only does the drought negatively impact farmers and ranchers, eventually consumers also pay the price.

"The fewer the animals there are, the higher that beef is in the grocery store,” said Dalton. “Or you have goats and sheep? The same way. You know the meat products are definitely affected by the drought. It's going to be higher prices. You expect higher prices."

As profits continue to dry up, ranchers look to the future and hope for rain.

"It has an impact on all kinds of things. Economy and our recreation benefit. And so we need the rain," said Brenda.

The state of disaster declaration authorized the use of all available state and local resources reasonably necessary to cope with the disaster.

Bandera, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Karnes, Kendall, Kinney, Llano, Maverick, McCulloch, Medina, Real, Uvalde, Val Verde, Williamson, Zapata, and Zavala counties were all names in the state of disaster.