Another Bad Cotton Crop Could Spell Trouble for Howard County Economy 1/22/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
January 22, 2012
Big Spring - There is over 100,000 acres of land for cotton in Howard County and only 6,000 acres produced cotton this past year.
Cotton is king in the county, however another year of bad crops could mean bad things for their economy.
Fields in Howard County are plowed, the first step in the crop process for the year. Pieces of last years cotton are mixed in the dry soil as you look around.
"This is the first year we've missed two crops in a row," Mike Moates, cotton farmer and Howard County Farm Bureau president said.
Moates has been farming cotton for over forty years and he has never seen a drought quite like this.
"If it weren't for the insurance, a lot of us would be out," he said.
In fact, Tommy Yeater, the Howard County Extension Agent says the oil boom has been their economy's saving grace.
"The oil industry has bailed us out. We haven't had it in agriculture," he said. "The past couple of years our gins haven't had much cotton. Tractor sales are down, pickup sales are down, it effects it all as a whole."
Yeater says luckily the farmers have been able to rely on crop insurance to make money, but the more years they claim, the less money they'll receive.
"Farmers won't get the money. If you can't get the money, you cant farm," he said.
However, if the oil bust were to come, both Yeater and Moates says it would mean disaster for the economy.
"If the bust comes and we don't have a crop, it's going to hurt our economy bad," Moates said.
"We don't even want to talk about that, it's just bad," Yeater said.
Moates says the last thing he wants is another bad crop, because bad crops means a weaker economy.
"We don't want to farm for insurance, we're in the business of cotton," he said.
Until next years harvest, all the farmers can do is wait and pray for rain.