Texas Launches New Attack On Feral Hogs

Jun 27, 2013

The Texas Department of Agriculture is waging a new attack on the feral hogs that are running roughshod over the state. A new matching grant will help fund programs put together by multiple counties, private industry and landowners. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said the new County Hog Abatement Matching Program or CHAMP has almost $60,000 to allocate in the first year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Louisiana's harvests this year include record yields for at least five crops — corn, soybeans, cotton, grain sorghum and rice. Sugarcane is still being harvested, but could be near a record.

Economist Kurt Guidry says reasons include more irrigation, better crop varieties and luck with the weather.

Rice expert John Saichuk cautions that a rice disease called blast may have cut the harvest below the federal estimate of 6,500 pounds per acre. And AgCenter surveys put the record yield at last year's 6,717 pounds per acre.

A Lake Charles veterinarian says he has seen more than a dozen cases of Eastern equine encephalitis in the past three weeks — and the only horses that are still alive are the two that were vaccinated.

Ted Shope of South Bayou Animal Hospital tells the American Press that horses have died of the disease in Creole, Grand Cheiner, Reeves, south Lake Charles and eastern Jefferson Davis Parish.

He says horse owners should make sure their animals are vaccinated for mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 11 north Louisiana parishes as disaster areas because of drought.

He says he was notified Wednesday that four — Morehouse, Richland, Union and West Carroll — are primary natural disaster areas. The other seven — Caldwell, Claiborne, East Carroll, Franklin, Lincoln, Madison and Ouachita — were named because they're are adjacent to the primary disaster area.

Livestock exhibits are a popular part of farm country fairs, but they're coming with a warning this year: Don't pet the pigs. And wash your hands well after exhibiting swine.

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is relaying word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It says human cases of swine flu rose last week from 29 to 158. Most of the patients were children who probably were infected while raising, displaying or visiting pigs at the fairs.

The CDC says the H3N2v virus may spread more easily to humans than is usual for swine flu viruses.