Dry, arid weather than has plagued much of the Southwest this spring and summer appears to have spread to Alabama. Drought conditions, which have been affecting the southern part of the state since April, show little signs of relenting. Agricultural Commissioner John McMillan stated that unless the state experiences rain, the drought could spread northward, forcing the Governor and federal officials to issue a disaster declaration.
The long drought has already devastated much of Alabama agricultural production. While about 94 percent of Alabama is experiencing unusually dry weather according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, farmers in the southern portion of the state are hardest hit. Some farmers report losses approaching 50 percent of their crop.
Others have managed to avoid complete disaster only through extensive use of irrigation. Sammy Williams of Henry County reports that he’ll likely save about 80 percent of his corn crop, but only because he has run his irrigation system almost nonstop for the past three months. Many farmers, however, are worried that the constant use of irrigation systems cannot be continued indefinitely.
Commissioner McMillan is recommending that Governor Robert Bentley declare a disaster state in several counties. That declaration, pending approval from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, would give Alabama farmers access to low interest federal loans and direct assistance for crops lost in the disaster.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer