Texas Agriculture Commissioner Hoists Red Alert for Food Supply Chain
Feb. 21 , 2021 (EIRNS)—In a brief interview on Fox News this morning, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R), repeated his warnings of Feb. 16, stating that Texas faces a food shortage in the midst of the devastating low temperatures and lack of energy infrastructure.
In his interview, Miller said that much of the blame for the crisis can be placed on the lack of leadership from the state’s political officials. “It was poor management ... us Republicans run Texas, and it’s on our shoulders, we messed up!”
Miller issued an official warning on Feb. 16 about the emergency condition of agriculture in the state. It concluded with an urgent appeal: “Governor Abbott must make ag industries a priority for electricity and gas just like hospitals, first responders, fire and police. I salute all our hospital workers and first responders as they deal with this natural disaster, but they won’t have food to eat if our farmers are left without power.”
In his warning, he said,
“I’m getting calls from farmers and ranchers across the state reporting that the interruptions in electricity and natural gas are having a devastating effect on their operations. In just one example, dairy operations are dumping $8 million worth of milk down the drains every day because the plants that process that milk don’t have power. Grocery stores are already unable to get shipments of dairy products. Store shelves are already empty. We’re looking at a food supply chain problem like we’ve never seen before, even with COVID-19.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in December 2020, Texas had 2.9 million cattle on feedlots—the largest number in the nation—and has the fifth-largest dairy herd, and is the sixth-biggest chicken producer.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Sanderson Farms, Inc., one of the biggest U.S. chicken processors, estimated that at least 200 of their 1,900 chicken houses were without power; feed mills were struggling to produce feed; shipments of feed and of processed chickens have been delayed by icy roads.
Dairy farms are in crisis. The CEO of Select Milk Processors, Rance C. Miles stated, “ ‘You just have this system that’s all based on time, deadlines, and cows that never stop milking. It’s just a disaster for the dairymen.”
Cattlemen have emphasized the biggest challenge has been keeping their cattle watered, which involves having to drive across their land to break the ice on top of troughs or ponds, since Texan cattle aren’t used to snow and don’t see it as a source of water.