South Georgia farmers continue to seek hurricane relief

By  | 

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

TIFT COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Nearly six months after Hurricane Michael, many farmers are still filled with unanswered questions.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association held a meeting to talk about disaster relief. Local farmers are urging state and federal officials to speed up the process.

Hundreds of farmers attended the meeting in Tifton alongside bankers, congressmen and senators. Their goal was to emphasize the urgency in receiving these disaster funds. Planting season is getting closer, and many farmers are still seeking answers as they try and prepare.

Bankers and farmers are looking for reassurance that disaster relief is coming. Farmers said six months after the storm, a nervous feeling remains, still not knowing when those questions are going to be answered.

"It's planting time Planting time is here, the bank needs to be paid, they need to know that they've got some money. The fertilizer dealers in some bases need to get paid, it's a cycle that everything has got to happen," said Armond Morris, Chairman of the Georgia Peanut commission and owner of Armond Morris Farms LLC.

Both state and federal lawmakers are working through bills to provide disaster funding. But officials said before anything can happen, those bills need to merge, they need to pass, and then they still need to work through state farming offices to be allocated before relief can be provided.

"Just drag your feet and drag your feet, and all these people with disasters, it's terrible. To keep delaying really puts a lot of pressure on these farmers who are trying to get started in a new year," said Tyron Spearman, Executive Director of the National Peanut Buying Points Association.

Experts said peanuts still have some time, with planting season beginning at the end of next month, but other crops, like corn, should be starting now.

Morris said while the some help has been provided, and the promise for more to come is appreciated, the timing of the process is difficult.

Earlier this year there was some concern about getting the soil ready in time for planting season because of the amount of rain hitting South Georgia. Now farmers are saying the weather has been dying up and the days are longer, so through all of these challenges many farmers are still optimistic for the coming season.

Officials hope to have these bill passed in the next month to six weeks.