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Farmers across the state seeking Federal aid

By: Alex Zequeira
By: Alex Zequeira

This year's drought has struck the state of Alabama so hard that officials in Montgomery are seeking federal disaster aid for farmers across the state.

Some farmers have already experienced a 20 percent loss in peanut and cotton crops and if rain doesn't come our way in the next couple of weeks, crop losses are going to be much worse.

“There will be some 100 percent losses, due to the lack of rain," said J.P. Kelly, concern farmer.

Not good news for local area farmers this late in the game. Farmlands across the Wiregrass are dry and barren. Although many farmers have planted their cotton and peanut seeds, the lack of rain is not letting them grow.

"Everything that we've planted after the middle of the first week in April, has been suffering severely," said Kelly.

On some farmlands, one can see certain row crops hit dry spots.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System Willie Durr said, "When these seeds were planted, the planters were able to put so many seeds per space, per inch of row. It was designed to do that, but because it was so dry when they were planted, there was not enough moisture there. It was those the fell in this area that didn't come up."

In terms of livelihood, farmers get paid by the pound for their crops. On average, one acre of farmland yields about 1,000 pounds of cotton or 2,500 pounds of peanuts.

However without the necessary rain, crop yields will drop considerably.

"We see right now in terms of losses, potentially, we could be losing 30 to 50 percent, maybe close to 30 percent right now in cotton if we don't get rain in the next 10 days. And peanuts will go through the same process," said Durr.

"We're looking at probably a 200 or 300 pound deficit, even if we can get cotton up now to make it for the year," said Jason Parker

So the waiting game goes on. Farmers continue to hope for rain but officials say if it doesn't fall by July 4th, some crops are going to dry up and be a complete loss.

State government officials are seeking federal disaster aid for Alabama farmers.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley and the states Agricultural Commissioner Ron Sparks will meet with the Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, to discuss a plan that would allow farmers to apply for low interest loans through the federal government.

Gov. Riley also says that the worst drought damage has occurred in the southeastern and eastern parts of the state.


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