Drought Brings Tough Times for Texas Rice Farms and Visiting Ducks

"Ronald Gertson usually plants about 3,000 acres of rice each year on his family farm in Wharton County, Texas. But because of emergency water regulations set in 2012 due to central Texas' painfully persistent drought, Gertson could plant about 40 percent of that land."

"When fall arrived, Gertson saw flocks of ducks and geese fly in to winter on his fields, as they have since he was a child growing up on his parents' rice farm. But this time, the birds didn't stay.

'We've been hurting now long enough that maybe they're just heading to a different area,' Gertson said. 'Early in the season, they're here, but there's just not enough here to sustain them so they move on.'

The five-year drought in central Texas, the worst since the 1950s, has wreaked havoc on the region's $374 million rice industry. Water restrictions have eliminated about 50,000 of the region's 145,000 acres of rice. Beyond the harm done to rice farms and the people who depend on them, Texas water bird fanciers and the state's $204 million waterfowl hunting industry are becoming increasingly alarmed."

Elizabeth Harball reports for ClimateWire August 22, 2013.

Source: ClimateWire, 08/23/2013