A new report warns that Texas farmers should brace for another massive outbreak of Ebola, with farmers reporting a surge in crop failure.
“It’s not a good time to be a farmer,” said Tom McCall, a Texas farmer who runs a farm on the outskirts of Amarillo.
“The crops have to be planted in order to harvest, and if the crops aren’t planted in the right way they can die and you’re left with nothing.”
The first cases of Ebola have occurred in rural parts of Texas, and the most recent cases have been concentrated in southern Texas, which is home to the state’s biggest agricultural region.
McCall said he’s noticed a spike in crop failures, but said he hasn’t noticed a surge of farmers contracting the disease.
“I think we’ve seen the worst,” McCall told The Associated Press.
“We’ve seen crop failures that have taken out more than 100 crops.”
McCall is one of several farmers in Texas reporting severe crop failure and disease.
Farmers in his farm region have reported that they’ve lost crops up to 60 percent of their harvested crops, and that they’re experiencing a “catastrophic” failure rate.
The AP’s Mark Berman visited McCall’s farm on Friday to ask him about the outbreak.
The Associated Statesman obtained a copy of a letter McCall sent to the AP from the Texas Agriculture Department’s crop development office.
“If you see any problems on your fields, please come to our office and have them tested,” the letter reads.
“Farmers with crop failure should be able to plant their crops as soon as possible so they can harvest as soon they can.”
The Texas Department of Agriculture’s crop production office, the state farm commissioner and the state Department of State Health Services did not respond to AP questions about the crisis.
The outbreak started in February and has since spread to at least two dozen Texas counties.
It’s spread by mosquitoes, and is spread by contact with infected people.
A case of Ebola has been confirmed in the U.S. state of Texas.
In addition to the first case in the state, McCall has experienced another crop failure, and a third crop failure this month.
The USDA said he lost 30 percent of his crops this month alone, and has lost up to a quarter of his crop yield in the past two weeks.
The first case of the virus was in a farmer in Texas in November.
McCollers health deteriorated quickly, and he spent the last two weeks in isolation at a Dallas hospital.
“There was a lot of fever and it was all I could do was cry,” McColler said.
“But they didn’t do any tests.
They told me they couldn’t do anything.
They said there was nothing they could do for me.”
McColl, who has been farming his crops for four decades, is a retired farmer from nearby Irving, Texas, who’s in his 70s.
McColls family has been a family for more than half of his life.
“My wife and I have been farmers for generations,” McColls said.
He said he was initially reluctant to become a farmer, because he feared his family might lose their livelihoods.
“All my life I’ve had farmers that have died, and my father was one of them,” McCllas told the AP.
“They would not let me go into the fields.”
The AP interviewed McColl on Thursday, and was able to speak to a number of farmers in the region who said the crisis was affecting them.
“You see it on a weekly basis,” McCalls son, Mark McColl told the Associated Press of the crop failures.
“And you see it every year.
It makes you feel really bad.”
The problem, McColl said, is that the disease isn’t spreading as fast in Texas as in other parts of the country.
“Texas is a pretty large state,” he said.
The Texas Health and Human Services Agency, which oversees the Texas Department for Agriculture, has not responded to AP inquiries about the current outbreak.
McCell said he feels “really bad” for the other farmers who have been forced to leave their farms.
“Our farmers have lost everything and everything’s gone out of business,” he told the newspaper.
“People are going to have to start thinking of themselves as farmers again.”
McCell, a native of Houston, is now in his 80s.
He has three daughters, ages 6 to 18.
He hopes to eventually retire, and believes that he could find work in the food processing industry.
“As soon as they can put an end to the crisis, then they can find other jobs,” he says.