From KCBD.com, Abby Reed, 23 Sept 2011.
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The severe drought hammering the South Plains has taken away cotton and now, it’s taking away local agricultural jobs.
Lubbock’s Agri-Life Extension Agent Mark Brown says times are tough for local cotton producers and their employees.
“One in every 7 jobs are related to agriculture. It’s probably higher than that here in Lubbock County,” Brown said. “We will see fewer days that people work during the ginning season and, unfortunately, we’ll see fewer people employed this year because the gins won’t be running as long or need as many hands.”
This year’s drought has been devastating to cotton production. With so little cotton expected to be harvested this season, many cotton gins will pay the price.
“You’re going to cut down on employment because you’re just not going to need that force of labor to handle that crop,” said cotton gin manager, Guyle Roberson.
Roberson manages a cotton gin in Lamb County. He says he is considering cutting back on ginning shifts, which would mean cutting back on employees.
“You’ve got employees that are seasonal workers, that come back year after year and depend on that job,” Roberson said.
However, Roberson says his gin is luckier than most in the area.
“I’ve heard talk of some gins not even opening up this year,” Roberson said.
Gins aren’t the only businesses who will be impacted by the lack of cotton. Brown says all across the board, ag industries will be affected.
“You’ve got a lot of truckers who transport those bales of cotton, you’ve got the spinning mills and you’ve got a lot of storage facilities that won’t store nearly as many bales. It’s a huge trickle down effect,” Brown said.
Roberson says it’s scary to admit it – but the drought and its affect on cotton, could be dire for the South Plains.
“This is probably going to be more devastating than people realize,” Roberson said.