Drought could devastate economy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Drought could devastate economy

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December 12, 2007

Albany - As Georgia's largest industry, agriculture brings in more than $5 Billion each year to the state's economy. The drought has already had a devastating impact on many crops, but if it continues and water flow is restricted to South Georgia, the state's entire economy could be at risk. That's one of the issues state legislators discussed during a meeting in Albany Wednesday.

These days, it may feel like you need a loan to hit the aisles of your Grocery store, especially the produce department. "It's desperate," said Gwen Knight. And bad news is, it's likely to get worse. "We're going to pay even more for fruits and vegetables because there's not going to be any. If they can't irrigate their crops, there's not going to be any," she said.

The drought has not only hurt farmers and folks who buy their product, like Gwen Knight, but it could hurt our economy too. "We really need to emphasize that we are in the agri-section of the state, we're responsible for producing a ton of food that people rely on," said Senator Michael Meyer von Bremen.  He worries that if the state doesn't get a handle on water issues, like how much to release and restrict, we could find ourselves in a rotten situation. He said, "If we talk about restricting water supplies down to South Georgia where the food belt of the state of Georgia is located, we're going to have problems."

If it's locally grown, you can find it in your local grocery store, like squash. But if the drought continues it may be harder to find here or harder to find for the price you want to pay. "That food they see in the local grocery stores," said Meyer von Bremen, "It didn't just pop up there by some magic. It's grown here, it's produced here."

Knight said, "People don't seem to realize we eat from the land." A land in desperate need of a little rain, to continue being fruitful.