As Somervell County and Texas continue to battle a series of relentless infernos, farmers and ranchers are in need of relief.

According to the Texas Forest Service, more than 14,000 fires have scorched more than three million acres since wildfire season began in November. Hundreds of homes and barns have been destroyed and more than 5,000 miles of critically important ranch fences have been lost. More acreage has been burned in Texas than the combined areas of Delaware, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., and a third of Connecticut.

The Texas Department of Agriculture recently established the STAR Fund to collect monetary donations from private individuals and companies willing to assist our farmers and ranchers in rebuilding lost fences. Those approved for STAR Fund assistance will be awarded a voucher for fencing supplies worth up to $500, depending on funds raised and number of eligible applicants.

The department will hold specific application cycles throughout the remainder of fire season with the first round already underway. To apply for funding, monitor www.TexasAgriculture.gov and download your application during an upcoming funding cycle.

A big “thank you” to McCoy’s Building Supply for donating the first $20,000 to help Texans recover from the devastating wildfires. Additionally, Valero Energy Corp., which operates Valero and Diamond Shamrock gas stations and convenience stores, donated $10,000.

Fire season is far from over and the number of acres burned is likely to increase. If farmers and ranchers lose their livelihoods, all Texans will suffer through increased food prices.

For more information on how to donate to the STAR Fund, visit www.TexasAgriculture.gov and click on STAR Fund.