Central Texas Ag industry struggles to recover from historic winter storms

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FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (KXAN) — Instead of seeing the vibrant greens you’d expect just weeks out from the harvest, farmers at Fredericksburg’s Hat and Heart Farm headed to work two weeks ago seeing a deadly white.

All 95 acres of the small family farm were covered in snow and ice.

When it finally melted a week later, farmer Katherine Tanner realized the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and turnips were all lost.

“It was a huge hit, it was a huge hit, there was a lot of produce in the fields, and that produce was a lot of money,” she said.

The farm sells to about 30 restaurants, 300 members of a farm club, and two farmer’s markets.

None of them will be getting much for at least two months.

“We expect freezes, we even expect hard freezes actually, but the preparations we normally do for those we did, and you can see what happened,” Tanner said.

It wasn’t just crops.

Williamson County Farm Bureau President Bob Avant says his troughs froze over making it difficult to feed his animals. Additionally, frozen fields made it difficult for farmers to get to their livestock and several calves died in the cold.

“In the extreme weather, the cows tend to want to calve, and so we had some baby calves laying in snow,” he said.

Though it’s too soon to know the long-term impact, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller issued a “red alert” regarding the food supply chain.

“We’re looking at a food supply chain problem like we’ve never seen before, even with COVID-19,” Miller said as power outages and hard freezes impacted much of the state.

Moving forward, local farmers say they’ll need to winterize if they want to avoid the same devastating losses when the next storm hits. They’re purchasing generators and looking into other supplies to help protect their fields and livestock.

“Just preparation, knowing it’s going to happen again, and having some backup capacity if we go down and have a week or four or five days without power,” Avant said.

“We’re farmers and we work with the weather, we need to be prepared for anything and now that we’ve experienced this, we have to set our sights on total preparation,” Tanner said.

The following are resources where farmers are asking for donations to help them recover:

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