Cotton farmers continue fighting one year after Hurricane Michael

By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 8, 2019

COLQUITT COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- One year after Hurricane Michael caused devastating losses, cotton farmers across South Georgia are still recovering and hoping for the best heading in to the 2019 harvest.

The state of Georgia experienced what many farmers said was unprecedented losses. Cotton farmers across the southwest were hit particularly hard, many farmers said the worst they have ever seen.

The Georgia Cotton Commission is estimating as much as one third of production was wiped out from the storm.

With harvest now underway for the season, farmers said they're expecting a good year for cotton, but even with a strong crop they said it could be years before they make up for the hurricane losses.

Bart Davis, Chairman of the Georgia Cotton Commission and owner of Davis Family Farm, is one of the many farmers still recovering.

He said between the high winds, heavy rains and timing of the storm being right in the middle of harvest, Hurricane Michael hit the trifecta of disaster for cotton farmers. Davis was stuck harvesting in to January, something he has never done.

"We lost about 60% of our crop last year, a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of infrastructure," Davis said. "Wasn't finished getting one crop out of the field, fixing to start putting another crop back in the field, it was really bad. It'll take years for many farmers to overcome."

As recovery continues, Davis said tariff wars and low demand means an all new set of challenges this year.

"Our problem right now is low prices," Davis said. "Cotton is 60 cent, and we need 80-plus cent for our crop to come out."

Davis said, rural America, like in many communities in South Georgia, agriculture is the backbone, and supporting local farmers can go a long way.

"It's our lives, I mean it's all like us, our farm, it's all we've ever done is farm. It means more than you can say," Davis said. "Never giving up."

Farmers across the region are still waiting on federal disaster relief funding. Many don't know when it's going to come, or what to expect out of the aid. But, like Davis, these farmers will be out waiting, working and persevering every day.

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