TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Texas farmers and ranchers face a lot of challenges, including severe weather such as grassfires, hail, and strong winds. Those events can punch a hole in a fence and knock over poles, allowing cattle to wander off. In an effort to help farmers and ranchers, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office is launching a program to help reunite farmers with their cattle.

Jimmy Dale Abner has been a farmer his whole life. He operates his own family business called ‘Mulberry Creek Cattle Company,’ raising and selling cattle in Merkel.

“I’m proud to be a fourth generation; I’m raising the fifth generation. I love it; I can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s where most farm money comes from is the beef sales. We buy and sell cattle from people all the time,” said Abner.

So, if the cattle get stolen or lost, it can be financially devastating.

“You know, if we’re running 50 head of momma cows, and we lose five of them, that’s a big part of our deal, especially with the cattle market right now. You know, good pairs are bringing 3,500 hundred dollars, so if you lose a bred cow, that’s a big chunk of your change right there,” added Abner.

To help this issue, Taylor County Sheriff Ricky Bishop implemented a loose cattle and fence damage program.

“I have a form for everyone to fill out with their ranch name, ranch owner, the location, the number of livestock they have to the type of livestock they have,” said Bishop.

Then, each farmer will be given a number to help law enforcement identify their cattle if lost or stolen. A program Dr. Blake Bennett with the Texas A&M Agri Life Extension said will add an extra layer of protection to farmers.

“It helps protect the liability of that landowner of the owners of that livestock, so there is an immediate phone number they can call,” said Bennett.

However, Abner shared that he’s not sure if he’s comfortable sharing his private information with the sheriff’s office.

“I’ll definitely be signing up for it, but I probably won’t put the number of cattle I own,” explained Abner.

He added that it might also be a challenge to spread the word about the program.

“I think the biggest problem is going to be implementation,” said Abner. “Agriculturalists are of an older generation, and trying to get them into town to fill out paperwork is going to be difficult.”

Regardless, Abner said there is a need for a program like this one. As with severe weather and currently, with dry and hot conditions, cattle tend to wander to find greener pastures and water.

This program is optional, but those wanting to learn more or register can visit the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office. You can also wave down an officer to get an application form.