Farmers concerned about the future - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farmers concerned about the future

Lee County- In a couple of weeks South Georgia farmers will begin planting their 2005 corn crop. But most area farmers will plant less this year than last. More farmers say they are going to stick to peanuts for 2005, because it is the only crop they think will turn a profit.

Doug Wingate is selling less fertilizer at Georgia Farm Services this year. Farmers are cutting back, because their costs are rising. "The diesel fuel, their equipment, fertilizer and chemicals, everything is up. And everything they sell is down," he said.

Now is the time to fertilize fields. But many South Georgia farmers have decided to cut back, especially on cotton, still smarting from last year's hurricane battered losses.

Lee Co. USDA Director Hank Hammond said "We had a large number of farmers who had excellent crops until Charley, Francis, and Jeanne made their appearance down here. It hurt a lot of people."

Hammond says farmers in Lee County will plant less because there is little chance to make a profit. "The price of the crops basically remaining the same or dropping in a lot of cases, that squeeze just gets tighter and tighter."

Farming is South Georgia's number one industry, so the cutback could have a major economic impact. "A lot of the smaller towns are totally dependent on agriculture. And if something don't happen to commodity prices I don't know where agriculture is going."

Hammond says pecans were another crop devastated by last year's hurricanes. Once a major farm commodity in South Georgia, Hammond says fewer farmers are planning on future pecan crops.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com