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Coronavirus impact spreads to Texas cotton farmers

Posted at 6:51 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 19:33:29-04

BELL COUNTY, TX — The coronavirus has affected many industries, from cruise lines to tech businesses. Now, the disease concern could spread to the cotton business.

Texas grows more cotton than any other state, bringing in about $2.25 million each year.

However, the virus has hit production, manufacturing and sales of cotton products around the world, meaning Texas farmers stand to make less.

James Kamas of Temple checks his oat crop as he considers how much cotton to plant this year, but health troubles half a world away concern him.

"Coronavirus is kinda dampening the demand for the crop. It's definitely hurting us," he explained.

He'd hoped to make 75 cents a pound this year, but right now the price has dropped to just 60 cents.

"Texas is the king of cotton," says Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent Lyle Zoeller, who says cotton has become increasingly attractive to farmers. He says that makes coronavirus a bitter pill to swallow.

”Foreign market's been bad. Sorghum's low. Wheat's not been very attractive either. So cotton did look pretty good for the last couple of years,” he said.

But in the global economy, something as small as a virus can have a huge impact.

"Is this gonna affect how much I plant this year? No. We're committed," said Kamas.

He hopes prices recover by December, when he hopes to deliver his crop. He'll need for prices to get back up to at least 70 cents a pound to see much profit.