LISSIE, Texas (Nexstar) — Months of triple-digit temperatures and little rain across Texas are affecting the livelihoods of rice farmers. For Tim Gertson, it’s costing him thousands.
“The consequence to me personally is around the tune $150,000 to $200,000 in lost profit,” Gertson said. “As droughts worsen and get more intense, the consequences for rice farming is when there starts to be more of demand on that natural resource on water.”
As of July 1, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) cut farmers in its supply areas off from water this season. It’s part of its water management plan to help with the preservation of water.
“So, what happens when we get cut off for our second crop water is we’re unable to grow the portion of our crop that we can grow the most efficiently, and the most profitable,” Gertson said.
Luckily for Gertson, he gets some of his water from a well on his property to help grow crops. But, that’s not always enough to get the job done and isn’t something that’s sustainable for all farmers since building a well is so expensive.
Now, as Gertson tries to figure out how to use less water to grow his crops, he grapples with the reality that there are other things that will make his job much harder in the years to come.
“We don’t have extra water, we don’t have extra natural resources, that water is already spoken for,” Gertson said. “It may be sitting there in the lake and looking really pretty, but we already have to fight over it. So, to bring new businesses into a state that’s already struggling greatly with natural resources is irresponsible.”
Gertson said they’re always trying to figure out ways to use less water to grow rice, like new methods that require a shorter growing season or even permanently reducing acres where they’re planting crops.