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Commissioner Staples helps rebuild fences on ranches destroyed by Hurricane Ike

"Operation New Fences" helps bring livestock home with donated fencing supplies for more than 100 impacted ranchers


Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples April 25 led an effort to rebuild fences on ranches that were hit by Hurricane Ike more than six months ago. Through "Operation New Fences," Commissioner Staples, state agency officials, local community leaders and volunteers distributed more than $100,000 worth of donated fence posts and barbed wire to nearly 100 ranchers in the Hurricane Ike surge zone in Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Liberty and Orange counties. Each rancher received 250 fence posts and 10 rolls of barbed wire, enough to rebuild a half-mile of fence.

"Seven months ago the skies were dark when Hurricane Ike ripped through this region, but today the true spirit of Texas is shining brightly," Commissioner Staples said. "It is a tribute to our grand state to see these donors and volunteers helping their fellow Texans overcome adversity and build a new future one fence post at a time."

Commissioner Staples announced "Operation New Fences" last month after learning many ranchers were still leasing pastures for their livestock in other areas of the state, because of a lack of resources to rebuild fences destroyed by Hurricane Ike. The Texas Department of Agriculture created a Web page specifically for this effort where producers could sign up for this one-time assistance.

"Operation New Fences" was a successful collaboration among TDA, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Fellowship of Christian Farmers International, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Texas Animal Health Commission and many industry associations, including the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the Independent Cattlemen's Association.

Prior to Hurricane Ike's landfall on Sept. 12, 2008, approximately 30,000 cattle roamed in Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Liberty and Orange counties. Today, only about 7,000 are able to graze the land because of the lack of fences and the high salinity content of the soil. In the days following Hurricane Ike's landfall, TDA participated in an emergency relief effort called "Operation No Fences" that resulted in the delivery of more than 9,000 hay bales, 165 tons of feed and 400 water troughs for ranchers who were unable to feed their cattle.

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