By: Amber Spradley | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 27, 2020
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Most Georgia farmers will not take time off from work during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are taking extra safety precautions.
According to the USDA, the United States harvested about 660,000 peanuts last year and leads the world in peanut exports.
However, one local farmer in South Georgia says it's too early to tell how the virus will impact this year's numbers.
The National Peanut Board shows Georgia grew the largest amount of peanuts last year.
Justin Studstill is one of those contributing farmers. He and his team produce about 6,000 acres each season.
When the pandemic spread, he says they put a lot of safety plans in place to protect his employees, but, of course, they have to keep moving.
"Peanuts are a crop that, that are planted one time a year, and they have to be planted in April and May. If you miss that planting window, you have to wait 'til the following year to plant them," he said.
Right now, they're working to prepare the fields for planting season. He says farmers taking two to three weeks off would be devastating to their crop.
Some of the safety measures they're implementing include keeping one farmer assigned to their own tractor or equipment, riding to fields separately and encouraging them to stock up on groceries at home and stay there when they're not working.
Studstill says like many businesses, the impacts of the outbreak are changing his industry, too.
Fortunately, he says, he bought all of his supplies needed for the farm year ahead of time. For some, it's been harder finding supplies they need.
"I'm hearing some stories about other people having a hard time getting some chemicals and inputs they need for their crop," he said.
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