Drought Relief for Georgia Farmers

Area farmers say recent rains have done little to help their already devastated crops. But relief may soon be on the way for farmers nationwide, as congress decides to dish out millions of dollars in drought disaster aid.

On any given day, a Thomasville farmers market is jam packed with customers seeking the finest and freshest produce around. And now that U.S. congressional leaders are passing a bill bringing millions of dollars in drought aid to farmers across the nation, these consumers, south Georgia farmers and producers can smile.

"Oh, it will help farmers with irrigation that's for sure, it takes money to irrigate and it will benefit all business and everyone including farmers as well,” comments Tony Lewis of Lewis Produce Company.

The new spending bill, a $397 billion effort by, will target every area of the U.S. government. And though $3.1 billion are being dished out to farmers affected most by last year's drought and floods, some south Georgia consumers say the funding is coming too late.

"You know, funding is what gives farmers the resources to improve product and enhance crop production and to it boosts American agriculture in south Georgia,” says consumer Homer Pankey.

And hopefully the extra funding will help boost agriculture across the nation. Congressional officials say funding from the new bill should be made available to farmers by the end of the month.

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Drought Facts

  • A drought is a period of abnormally dry weather, which persists long enough to produce a serious hydrologic imbalance (for example crop damage, water supply shortage, etc.)

  • The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration and the size of the affected area.

  • There are four different ways that drought can be defined:
    • Meteorological - a measure of departure of precipitation from normal. Due to climatic differences what is considered a drought in one location may not be a drought in another location.
    • Agricultural - refers to a situation when the amount of moisture in the soil no longer meets the needs of a particular crop
    • Hydrological - occurs when surface and subsurface water supplies are below normal.
    • Socioeconomic - refers to the situation that occurs when physical water shortage begins to affect people.

  • The Dust Bowl days of the 1930's affected 50 million acres of land, rendering the farmers helpless.

  • In the 1950's, the Great Plains suffered a severe water shortage when several years went by with rainfall well below normal.

  • The worst drought in 50 years affected at least 35 states during the long hot summer of 1988.

  • In 1988, rainfall totals over the mid-west, Northern Plains and the Rockies were 50 percent to 85 percent below normal.

  • During the great drought of 1988, Governor Guy Hunt of Alabama led a statewide prayer for rain. It came the very next day, and the thunderstorms continued for weeks.

Source: www.nws.noaa.gov (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) contributed to this report