A new study by Texas Tech University and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension found that crop production has had a substantial overall impact on employment and the economy in the Texas High Plains region.
The most recent data shows that crop production in our area supported more than 103,000 jobs and generated more than $12.2 billion dollars in economic activity in 2010.
Dr. Darren Hudson, professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Texas Tech University led the study. He said the total crop value production is roughly 15% of the overall regional economy.
"It's roughly 20% of employment about 20% of the jobs in the Pan Handle & South Plains are tied directly to crop production agriculture, pretty substantial amount of employment."
The research also showed that cotton production has nearly doubled from last year.
They estimate that 3.5 million cotton bales will be produced this year. Last year, the total number of cotton bales produced was 1.8 million.
But Hudson said this number is still down from the average amount of production.
"Especially if we look at the last 10 years of production, this is about 10% below the average."
He said the average amount of cotton bales produced in the last 10 years is about 4 million.
He also said the current drought has decreased the overall level of production.
"The last two years have been pretty substantial hits on the agricultural sector, which has had an impact on the Lubbock economy and the regional economy as well," said Hudson.
Brad Heffington is a cotton farmer in Littlefield and he says it is very frustrating as a producer because there is so much that is out of his control.
"It's just agonizing when you're in the middle of one of those and not a lot you can do about it."
In his opinion, it will not get better with the coming months.
"Our normal winter months are dry so we don't really get a lot of chances for moisture until about March," Heffington said.
Researchers say the total numbers of jobs and economic activity for 2011 will be available in January.
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