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Texas A&M AgriLife experts are warning that Texans could be in store of a shortage of food products at grocery stores, especially in the near term, after last week's winter storm.

The immediate impact? Empty shelves in various parts of the state after food service companies were unable to have their trucks deliver products, of all types, to grocery stores for days, if not a whole week.

“This is not another COVID situation from last March,” said David Anderson, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist. “This is a really harsh winter storm. Of course, the effects have been exacerbated by the electric grid and water problems.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents, along with other government officials, are assessing the damage that occurred and are turning in reports of expected losses and economic impacts. Some impacts that will have to be tracked over a period time, crops subjected to freezing temperatures for an extended period of time.

“If a cattle packing plant is shut down, then beef production will be lower one week but back up the next,” Anderson said. “Also, these weather events may destroy crops like vegetables or fruit. If they do, then we’ll have tighter supplies and higher prices until the next production can occur either from another region of the world or part of the U.S. If the storm killed a lot of chickens, then we might have lower production for a few months and higher prices.”

Another food category affected by last week's transportation issues: fresh dairy.  Anderson noted that overall dairy production wasn't affected, just the transportation of finished product to grocery store shelves.

Concerning the empty shelves at grocery stores, Anderson also said, "... But I think also we could probably all use some flexibility. We expect the shelves to be full no matter what. We expect to be able to get whatever we want, whenever we want it, regardless of season. I think some flexibility, planning and patience would help us all.”

Texas A&M AgriLife is the largest comprehensive agriculture program nationally. Texas A&M AgriLife brings together a college and four state agencies focused on agriculture and life sciences within The Texas A&M University System. With over 5,000 employees and a presence in every county across the state, Texas A&M AgriLife is uniquely positioned to improve lives, environments and the Texas economy through education, research, extension and service.

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