Drought, pandemic pummel local farmers

Local News

LITTLEFIELD, TX — This season has been anything but easy for local farmers.

First, the “worst drought in years” obliterated acres of crops and the crop season, and now the pandemic has dropped cotton prices to a record low.

“It just seems like we’re having a hard time with Mother Nature this year, and then on top of that, the coronavirus,” said Brad Heffington, owner of Heffington Farms in Littlefield.

Heffington has been a cotton farmer for 30 years, and this season he has lost more than 60 percent of his cotton crop. Even the corn he planted on the soil that the cotton rejected was unable to grow.

“There’s nothing you can do but feel helpless … You’ll get a crick in your neck from looking up to the sky for rain clouds,” Heffington said.

Last Friday, his crops finally got the first few good drops of rain since March, but Heffington added that while it’s helpful, it’s not good enough to save this season. But it might be just in time for the next one.

“It’s too late for a lot of crops this year, but we got to start getting some rain if we’re going to have a crop next year,” Heffington said.

If the drought wasn’t enough, farmers have also suffered at the hands of the pandemic. The demand for cotton and cotton prices are at a record low, and farmers like Heffington worry not only about their loss in sales but also about preserving their place in the world trade for cotton.

Additionally, farmers are deemed essential workers, so they have continued working their usual shifts even as the state shut down.

“I’m self-employed, so I can’t go sign up for unemployment or benefits like that,” Heffington said.

Delays in shipping and a shortage of certain equipment pieces have also made the job harder when time is already of the essence in the drought.

However, Heffington emphasized that farmers are resilient, and he’s confident they’ll make it through this difficult time just as they have times before.

“Everybody’s just trying to survive and get their operation through the rest of this year, hopefully getting COVID-19 behind our nation,” Heffington said.

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