• 70°
Hartselle Enquirer

Drought taking its toll on Alabama farmers

By Staff
Rep. Ronald Grantland, Guest Columnist
There is no doubt that Alabama is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record. Right now, 90 percent of the state is more than eight inches below the normal rainfall amount, and 75 percent is more than a foot below. According to State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, “the current drought conditions in Alabama are as bad as they have ever been this time of year.”
In fact, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that a majority of Alabama is experiencing a D3 extreme drought. A D3 drought is the second most severe drought category. Only a D4, or exceptional drought, is worse. State officials estimate that if current conditions continue, an exceptional drought is inevitable.
Although a drought can adversely affect any state, it has a profound impact on Alabama because agriculture is one of our most important industries. Farming not only feeds our state, it also provides billions in revenue and thousands of jobs across Alabama.
New methods and technology allow our farmers to overcome many obstacles, but the basic principles of farming remain the same. No amount of technology or resources can overcome an extreme drought.
The recent lack of rainfall spells disaster for our farmers and their crops. Officials believe there is still enough time left to rescue peanut and cotton crops, but the south Alabama corn crop is expected to sustain major losses.
Meanwhile, because of last year’s drought, many farmers culled their cattle herds, getting rid of older and weaker cows. This year, however, our farmers are being forced to slaughter some of their best cows because there is no grass to feed them and there is no hay—usually reserved for winter feeding—either.
While Alabama’s farmers are known for their hard work and resilience, there is no doubt that low yields and lost crops mean economic hard times for our agricultural community. However, there are things that we can all do to help, and Alabama farmers and producers will need all the assistance available to recover the loss of income.
First, we can all help conserve water. Whether it’s refraining from watering your lawn, or simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, a little water conservation can go a long way.
It’s also important to buy Alabama grown produce. While the crop yield may be low, be sure to buy what our farmers do produce by looking for the A+ logo when you shop. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries sponsors the A+ Alabama Agriculture program, and when you see the yellow and red A+ symbol, you’ll know it is Alabama grown.
Many Alabama farmers may be eligible for federal aid set up by a disaster relief bill that Congress passed a few weeks ago. Forty-one Alabama counties received sufficient product losses to warrant a natural disaster declaration, and farmers in these counties are eligible for federal assistance. Another 14 contiguous counties qualified for low-interest loans under the Consolidated Farm &Rural Development Act.
Many farmers have already been negatively affected this year, as the Easter weekend freeze hurt many around the state. In fact, Alabama had estimated $18.8 million in nursery losses and $56.7 million in fruit, crop and hay losses from the Easter freeze. Farmers whose losses are beyond what is covered by crop insurance may qualify for a loan at 3.75 percent interest from the Farm Service Agency. This may be used in restoring or replacing property, paying production costs, living expenses or refinancing existing debt. Farmers may also be able to defer payment on current loans, and have eight months to apply.Yet the most important thing we need for farmers is rain. Sunny skies and low humidity may make for a great day to barbeque or go to the lake, but I think all of us would understand if some of our outdoor activities were rained-out in the near future.

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Goodbye to a good boy

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

College Street Players to present Newsies: The Broadway Musical 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle adds two police officers 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle bomb threat deemed hoax

Editor's picks

At 90, Carl Winton keeps on trucking

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle man with rare genetic condition headed to Grand Ole Opry

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Morgan delegation discusses recent legislative session 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

College Street Players to present Newsies: The Broadway Musical

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

HU adjusts rates for water, sewer and natural gas services

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Town Council helps Priceville Elementary furnish school 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle City Schools hires three math coaches for 2024-25 school year 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Crestline students rock Alabama Stock Market Games, poster contest

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

New EMA director worries and plans for a living

Falkville

Jonna’s journey: Local woman battles Glioblastoma with unyielding faith 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Sheriff’s Office opens applications for 2024 youth academy

Brewer

MCS Technology Park to host STEAM summer camp for middle school students 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Bridging the gap: Hartselle Historical Society launches guided walk downtown bringing history to life

Falkville

Storm shelter companies see increase in calls for installation

Falkville

Morgan County rabies clinic to be held June 1

Eva

Community class reunion celebrates Morgan schools

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hats off: Class of 2024 graduates from Hartselle High School

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

City adjusts garbage routes for Memorial Day

Falkville

Larry Madison has been a pillar in Falkville for four decades

Hartselle

Hartselle trio nominated for two K-LOVE awards

x