Floods, with dramatic images of rising water and submerged property, make for better television than cracked, bone-dry soil that is the result of devastating drought.

But for farmers and ranchers, both are equally calamitous.

The year 2011 is one for the weather record books. Devastating floods have hit farmland and communities along the Mississippi River, where the focus has now turned to rebuilding levees and clearing shipping channels.

Now there is growing concern about Missouri River flooding and a destructive drought continues to take its toll on Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and other states. Long-suffering Louisiana is being dealt a double whammy: both flood and drought have been declared in the Bayou State, depending on which side of the levee you are on.

Floods and the deadliest tornado season since the mid-1970s are currently grabbing most weather headlines, but economists with the American Farm Bureau Federation caution that in the end, drought may deliver more devastation to crops and livestock than floods.

According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the impact of the drought on agriculture in the Lone Star State is approaching $1.5 billion. Texas livestock producers are facing the biggest losses with $1.2 billion of the total due to increased feeding costs and lost value of wheat pasture grazing.

Texas is the largest beef cow producing state, with more than 5 million head. Today, more than 90 percent of the state’s beef cows are in counties under severe or exceptional drought. The drought is also slamming cattle ranchers in Oklahoma and Kansas.