$3 billion in disaster relief funding is coming to Southwest Georgia farmers

Doerun Disaster Relief Round Table

DOERUN, Ga. (WALB) - Monday will mark eight months since Hurricane Michael ripped through South Georgia as a powerful category three storm.

The damage left behind: devastating.

Top state leaders met today in Doerun, less than 24 hours after President Trump signed Congress’ $19.1 billion dollar relief package.

“Ridiculous.” “Embarrassing.” The words used by U.S. Senator David Purdue to describe the eight months it took for Southwest Georgia farmers to get their much-needed disaster relief funding. He says despite that wait, the farmer has been resilient and now they can rebuild.

To put it into perspective, U.S. Senator David Purdue says the longest disaster relief we've had in the nation is two months and that was Hurricane Sandy.

Sen. Purdue said today, the wait "wasn't anything but partisan politics."

Three billion dollars, out of the overall 19 billion dollar disaster relief package, has been set aside to help Southwest Georgia farmers.

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black told the crowd of farmers listening to the state leaders in Doerun today, there are "still a lot of details to work out."

They aren’t sure yet how much of this money will be block grants and how much will go towards loan programs.

Chairman of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission of Vegetables, Nick Minor. (Source: WALB)
Chairman of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission of Vegetables, Nick Minor. (Source: WALB)

“Without the farmer in South Georgia, we have no economy,” said Nick Minor, the Chairman for the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Vegetables.

The past eight months after Hurricane Michael have marked the longest waiting period for disaster relief in the nation. A Sumter County farmer says an out of business farmer can easily ruin a whole city’s economy.

“This is going to affect us all the way down to the collection plates at our churches. And it has,” said Minor.

Three million dollars in disaster relief will now go to help Southwest Georgia farmers. U.S. Senator David Purdue expressed his frustrations today, saying it never should have taken this long to get help.

“This is embarrassing. And I apologize for representing the United States Senate. This took eight months and that’s ridiculous,” said Senator Purdue.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Governor Brian Kemp joined Sen. Perdue in his upset.

Governor Brian Kemp. (Source: WALB)
Governor Brian Kemp. (Source: WALB)

“I was clearly frustrated. I said that many times,” said Kemp.

“It wasn’t anything but partisan politics,” Purdue said.

Some farmers missed a whole season to plant their crops this year, and without this money, they might have missed even more. To some, the money may have just saved more than farmers’ crops.

U.S Rep. Austin Scott. (Source: WALB)
U.S Rep. Austin Scott. (Source: WALB)

“I was very concerned about suicides, things we’ve seen in the past with farmers and farm families when we’ve had these problems,” said U.S. Representative Austin Scott.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, of course, he hopes getting the money to farmers takes weeks, rather than months.

Copyright 2019 WALB. All rights reserved.