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Texas agriculture commissioner issues 'red alert,' asking Gov. Abbott for help

"We’re looking at a food supply chain problem like we’ve never seen before, even with COVID-19," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said.
Credit: Delcia Lopez/AP images
Icicles form on a citrus tree from a sprinkler system used to protect the trees from the freezing temperature on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021 in Edinburg,Texas. The Rio Grande Valley has not seen a hard freeze since 1989. A sprawling blast of winter weather across the U.S. plunged Texas into an unusually snowy emergency Monday that knocked out power for more than 2 million people, shut down grocery stores and air travel and closed schools ahead of frigid days still to come.

Farmers and ranchers across Texas are having to waste millions of dollars of products, according to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Miller issued a statewide warning Tuesday for the agriculture community and Texas' food supply chain.

“As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I’m issuing a red alert regarding agriculture and our food supply chain here in the state of Texas,” Miller said. 

Farmers and ranchers are seeing devastating effects from the cold weather on livestock, feed and agriculture products, according to Miller.

“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," Miller said

Some dairy operations have been forced to dump $8 million worth of milk every day because the plants that process the milk don't have any power, Miller said. He also said one of the main items grocery stores aren't getting is their dairy products.

"Store shelves are already empty," Miller said. "We’re looking at a food supply chain problem like we’ve never seen before, even with COVID-19.”

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Miller asked Gov. Greg Abbott to designate agriculture producers and processors as "critical infrastructure" that must be provided gas and electricity to continue operations. He said they should be prioritized 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," Miller said.

Miller said while the temperatures will eventually rise, he worries about the long-term damage if some type of action doesn't happen soon.

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