Despite significant rainfall in portions of Texas in early January, over 60% of the state remains in conditions ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map issued last week.
Prolonged drought, lingering like a bad dream, continues to plague farmers and ranchers in Texas and the Plains region and elsewhere. In recent years Farm Aid’s national farmer hotline has responded with hay lifts in Oklahoma and Texas, drought disaster grants in several states and individual emergency grants to producers throughout the region. Through referrals to organizations in the Farm Aid Resource Network, we’ve also shared knowledge and info from local, state and regional experts in sustainable soil management, drought-resilient grazing practices and water conservation.
Now, thanks to a donor with a heart of gold, and to the hard work of several ally organizations, we are putting together the Farm Aid Texas Drought Summit, set for Thursday, January 29, in San Antonio. Working closely with the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (TOFGA), the Farm Aid Texas Drought Summit precedes and leads into the annual TOFGA conference. Farmers and ranchers in need can apply for scholarships to attend both the Drought Summit and TOFGA conference.
At the Summit, those farmers and ranchers will be brought together with a wide range of stakeholders, public, private and non-profit, with the goals of learning from each other, deepening cooperation, improving immediate and long-term disaster response and sharing knowledge of drought-mitigation production techniques. Also, the TOFGA conference will include several production-oriented workshops and seminars focused on the business of surviving and even thriving in times of drought. Core organizers of the Summit include not only Farm Aid and TOFGA, but also our old friends from Austin, the Sustainable Food Center, as well as nationally prominent disaster response and farm sustainability experts from the Farmers Legal Action Group, the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA and the National Center for Appropriate Technology. NCAT is also producing a Texas-specific drought resources publication (just as it did for drought-plagued California), hard copies of which will be available at the conference, with free online copies available soon at this NCAT publications link.
It’s been my great pleasure over the last six months to work with all of these folks in putting together the Farm Aid Texas Drought Summit. Come and join us! You don’t have to be from Texas to come, and you know that if you do, you’ll get a big ol’ Texas welcome. See you in San Antone later this month!