South Georgia farm products expect big export market - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia farm products expect big export market

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Business is booming for south Georgia farmers, but the price of doing that business is skyrocketing.

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary expects farm exports to reach new records this year.  The country is expected to export 135 and a half billion dollars of farm and food products, 25 percent more than last year.

Many commodities are pulling in record prices right now, but oil prices could cut potential profits.

This record shattering season promises to be a big shot in the arm for south Georgia's economy. Long time farmers say they have dreamed of commodity prices like today's, but what it's going to cost to produce those crops is a nightmare.

Mike Bird harrows a field and watches the global commodity markets. Record commodity prices will decide how much corn, cotton, and peanuts he plants.

Bird said "I need to plant more corn for rotation, but cotton is exciting. At one dollar and twenty cents a pound, somewhere in that neighborhood, if you can make a good year, you can make some money."

China and Russia exported few crops, so world demand has corn at more than 7 dollars per bushel, and peanuts at 600 dollars per ton. Jack Miller says in 55 years of farming he has never seen anything like today's prices, all because of skyrocketing oil.

Miller said "Back yonder we were paying $30 for a ton of fertilizer and now we're paying $300 to $400 a ton. Back then we were paying $30 a bag for cotton seed. Now it's $750 a bag. So it's hard for me to conceive of all of this."

And with diesel prices going up daily, farmers can't be sure how much it's going to cost to plant for this year's big payoff.

Bird said "It takes a lot to put a crop in the ground, and to take it to harvest. We got through a lot of people and businesses to get from the start to the finish. So agriculture is still big business in Georgia."

Officials say one of every 12 jobs nationwide is related to agriculture, and that these record crop exports could create thousand more.

Another increasing cost is the rent for irrigated farm land.

Mike Bird says he will plant one hundred acres of cotton this year, the first he has planted in four years, because of those record commodity prices.

Farmers plan to start planting corn within the next week to ten days.

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