Drought is the buzz word at Sunbelt Ag Expo - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Drought is the buzz word at Sunbelt Ag Expo

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October 16, 2007

Moultrie  --
Farmers who couldn't irrigate this year say they won't harvest some of their fields because of poor yields. Many are calling for the state to build more reservoirs to conserve rain water for use during dry times.

So they're looking for more efficient ways to irrigate their fields. Many have switched to electric pumps to save on higher diesel prices, but they say they can't skimp on water.

Despite all the technology at the Sunbelt Ag Expo there just isn't an answer to the water shortage caused by the drought. Farmers say irrigation rationing would force some not to plant.

James, "I think areas around Spring Creek where they pump out of the creek over there they probably won't be able to plant this coming year," said Mitchell County Farmer James Lee Adams.

It's not only a problem in Georgia, Alabama farmers who haven't been able to irrigate are finding poor yields.

Richard "We're seeing some of the worst yields that we've ever had, some we may not even run a harvester through because it's so poor," says Richard Edger from Alabama.

While irrigation experts say they've seen more farmers switch to electric pumps rather than diesel because of the cost, farmers simply need water.

Terry "Everyone is trying to be smart with the water, but you still have to have water," said Terry Mann of Rainbow Irrigation Systems.

State House Speaker Glenn Richardson says despite legal issues with the Environmental Protection Division it's time for Georgia to consider more reservoirs. "We should have been building reservoirs ten years ago and we haven't. We should have built those in the north Georgia area."

Farmers say if irrigating restrictions in the Flint River Drought Protection Act keep them from producing a crop, they won't be the only ones hurt.

"What I'm really concerned about is the people who could be put out of jobs if this drought continues and we take too strong of action against farmers being able to grow their crops," Adams said.

Farmers say for every $100 they put into the community, it has a multiplying factor of four. They say that could have a severe impact and start affecting other jobs if they cut back.

Tuesday, Georgia's congressional delegation proposed legislation that would allow Georgia to be temporarily exempt from the Endangered Species Act, which threatens our water supply by taking water from north Georgia and sending it downstream to protect mussels and sturgeon in Florida.

It is expected to face strong resistance, but Georgia's lawmakers say it is a "common sense" solution to the state's persistent drought.

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