Houston County Farmers Are Getting Worried About Their Crops and Livestock

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Many local corn fields are suffering because of the lack of rain. The cotton and peanut crops are sitting in dry dirt. Houston County extension service coordinator Willie Durr says farmers are getting very worried.

Alabama cattle farmers are also suffering. They say the lack of rain is forcing them to use winter hay to feed their herd. This could pose serious problems in the future.

Many say there hasn't been a drought this bad since the year 2000.

Tuesday, state representatives started stepping in to see what they can do to help, so Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks is one of many state officials who were in the Wiregrass Tuesday, listening to farmers' concerns.

Commissioner Ron Sparks is trying to get feedback as well as he was answering some questions and trying to see what farmers need most.

"By being here today, we realize the critical and severity of this situation, so we're going to do everything we possibly can," said Commissioner Sparks.

Some have been fortunate enough to get sprinkled by Alberto, but even that's not enough to make up for what was lost in the past few months.

A concerned Farmer said, "We have not only depleted our surface moisture, but we've also depleted our soot-soil moisture, and Ed, one rain will not cure the effects of a drought."

Food supply seems to be the biggest concern for livestock farmers. The lack of rain is stunting the growth of primary food sources. This is forcing farmers to dip into their winter supply.

Transportation is also an issue with inflation and rising gas prices. Solutions this season are not as clear as they were in past droughts, and the longer farmers live with this problem, the worse the long-term effects will be.

Commissioner Sparks said, "We're going to be in high gear doing everything we can, touching every resource, talking to NRCS, talking to USDA, the Secretary of Agriculture, the governor's office and commissioners in other states. We're going to do everything we can to get our hands on some type of resource and move as quick as we can."

Right now, agriculture officials say this situation is at a serious level. If we go another two weeks with the same conditions, it could turn critical.

After meeting in Dothan, Commissioner Sparks and the other state representatives gathered with farmers in Geneva.

The commissioner will then present the information he gathers here to the secretary of agriculture in Washington, DC.

He plans to call another meeting when there are answers or at least some type of government response.

Commissioner Sparks says he hopes to see some type of food supply or at least a response delivered to wiregrass farmers within two weeks.