Heat, Drought Taking Huge Toll on Farmers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The extremely hot dry conditions have taken a toll on Alabama's farmers.

The drought is killing crops and state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks says farmers need federal disaster assistance. Sparks said the aid is needed immediately from the federal government, but it has been slow in coming.

Some experts believe the state is in the midst of a multiyear drought that began two years ago. Sparks said his agency has begun putting together assistance packages at the state level they hope will provide short term help.

He said the department plans to ramp up better communication procedures with county offices to get the word out about any disaster assistance available to farmers.

Sparks also said consumers soon could start feeling the effects of the drought at the retail level. He said with farmers dumping their livestock on the market early and watching crops die in the fields, consumers could pay higher prices when commodities become more scarce.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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