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Conditions worsen for Georgia farmers

POSTED: May 31, 2007 5:02 a.m.

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin is concerned about the effect of the drought on all of the state’s crops, especially those already damaged and/or held up by the recent freeze.

“We’re in a critical situation with some of our crops in some areas, if those fields do not get some good soaking rain this week,” Irvin said.  “Without rain, cotton and peanut planting will be held up, and vegetables and tobacco that have been replanted will not produce.  Where farmers are irrigating, the costs are rising and the farm ponds are starting to dry up.

“Some farmers are starting to cut their freeze- and drought-damaged wheat to feed their animals.  It’s too late to replant corn in the southeast.  And in the south and in the southeast farming regions, it may be too dry to try planting sorghum.  Last year’s minimal hay crop all across the state was already causing problems with cattle and dairy farmers.  This year hay and other feed stocks have suffered damage from the freeze and drought all across the state.

“Pecan trees that survived the freeze could start dropping nuts if they don’t get rain,” Irvin said.
Irvin also is asking the Georgia Petroleum Council to do what it can to help get more diesel fuel to Georgia farmers.

“Most farmers use what is called off-road diesel, a non-taxable fuel used only in farm machinery and irrigation equipment.  We have had a few reports of farmers not getting enough of this due to the high demand caused by the drought,” Irvin said.

“I have contacted the Georgia Petroleum Council to let the industry know our need and to encourage them to address it,” said Irvin.  “It is unusual for farmers to have to do so much irrigating so early in the season.  This has put a high demand on the current supply.”  

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