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December 31, 2002
Albany-- Georgia farmers should see better prices for their crops in 2003. That's according to forecasters with the University of Georgia College of Agriculture. A stronger year for Georgia's agriculture would be a big boost for the state's economy.
Southwest Georgia farmers have struggled in the last year, .battling drought and low commodity prices. But the 2003 Farm Outlook from the University of Georgia says supply and demand should favor farmers, especially cotton farmers.
Farmer Marty McLendon said "Consumption is up, production is lower, so we anticipate higher prices."
Marty McLendon is a cotton farmer in Leary. He hopes the economists are right. In 2002 cotton production world wide was down 11 percent. The demand for cotton is expected to rise next year about 2 and a half percent. McLendon says you can usually judge the cotton market by watching China. "If they import cotton, prices go up. You can look at charts over the years. When they import, prices are higher. When they export, prices are extremely low. Right now China's imports have increased substantially over the last year."
The 2003 farm outlook says Georgia's peanut farmers will be hurt by supply and demand. The 2001 peanut crop was the second largest ever, and there is still a glut of nuts.
Livestock and poultry account for 51 percent of Georgia's total farm income. U.S. beef production is forecast to drop about about a billion pounds from last year, meaning increased prices for farmers, because beef demand is expected to remain strong.
Overall the forecast looks for an improved 2003 for South Georgia farmers.
McLendon said "Farmers are very optomistic. We hope for better production year and better prices. That's what keep us in business."
Agriculture is Georgia's number one industry, generating 41 billion dollars of the state's economy.