Texas Dust Storm Reminds Locals of the Dust Bowl Days

Texas Dust Storm Reminds Locals of the Dust Bowl Days

Difference today is conservation personnel can help offer solutions.

Drivers must pull off the road because they can't see. Farmers and ranchers can barely see to get from their house to their toolshed or barn. Gritty dirt is everywhere. The dust stings as it his unprotected skin.

No, this isn't a recount from a survivor of the Dust Bowl days in the 1930s. You can find plenty of those accounts recorded for history if you Google 'Dust Bowl' on your computer. Or you can just ask someone in modern-day Lubbock. The account in the first paragraph is a simulated description of what's happening there right now.

Continued drought extending back months and even years has left parts of Texas vulnerable to dust storms, They have increased in intensity since last spring. If Greg Soulje, a weather forecaster writing for Farm Progress Companies, is right, the area may finally see some relief in late fall and into winter. Until then residents and farmers and ranchers there will battle the dry weather.

The drought is so pronounced that In Diana hay producers donated hay to Texas, and Truckers Associations saw that it got to where it was needed. Some of the producers sending hay barely have enough of their own stored away for winter due to late, short cuttings in many parts of Indiana during the latter half of the summer.

The difference between the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and now is that today, thanks to the public outcry created by the Dust Bowl, there is the Natural Resource Conservation Service, part of UASDA and the successor to the Soil Conservation Service, established in the mid-1930s. USDA Service Centers in Texas have been busy over the past year, providing assistance for measures that should cut down on wind erosion and help producers survive the drought.

NRCS estimates conservation measures have been applied voluntarily on 9.9 million acres in Texas since Oct. 1, 2010, up from 8.3 million acres the year before. IN 2010, NRCS invested $121.3 million in Texas alone in cost-share and other programs to combat soil conservation issues, mostly brought about by the heat and drought. In this past year, the amount expended for the year grew to $163 million.

This year alone, NRCS has written 3,447 conservation plans to protect 598,064 acres of Conservation Reserve land in Texas. There are currently 3.1 million acres in Texas under CRP.

The CRP is one program that is expected to be scrutinized for cost effectiveness as Congress prepares the 2012 Farm Bill proposals.  
TAGS: USDA
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