South Ga farmers voice concerns to ag commission candidate

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Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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BRONWOOD, Ga. (WALB) - South Georgia farmers are still dealing with the repercussions of high inflation.

Wednesday, some of those farmers had the chance to speak with a republican candidate for office who promises to ease their burden.

Agriculture Commissioner nominee Tyler Harper toured McClesky Cotton and held a roundtable. Harper is running against Democratic candidate Nakita Hemingway this fall.

A key concern that a lot of farmers had was competition from other countries and what that might do to the farming industry in Georgia. Concerns about how competition from other countries is growing.

“That’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing as a level playing field and that’s not fair,” said Jimmy Webb, a local farmer.

Webb has a row farm in Leary and said that the U.S. imports products from countries that are not abiding by the same environmental regulations his farm has to follow.

Meanwhile, inflation is still top of mind. Some believe it is a long-term issue.

“We are going to survive because that’s what we do, but I don’t know for how long. The math is not working at all,” Gary Leger, a Crisp Country grower, said.

Another issue was the availability of qualified workers. Non-seasonal farmers and agriculture employers like Jim Reid have issues with not even getting access to those workers.

“I would like to be able to take advantage of the H2A program. That would work very well for me,” Reid said

Adam Graft, the owner of dairy farms in Baconton and Americus, said having qualified workers is among his issues.

Adam Graft is a dairy farmer in Americus and Baconton
Adam Graft is a dairy farmer in Americus and Baconton(WALB)

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas Eve or Easter morning. Someone’s got to be there milking cows. There are a lot of issues going on across the country that are creeping into Georgia. It’s great to discuss with the future issues of the ag community will be,” Reid said.

Jim Reid listens in at McClesky Cotton
Jim Reid listens in at McClesky Cotton(WALB)

Harper said his first battle is listening to the concerns of farmers like Graft.

“That was the purpose of today’s meeting. To hear from those involved in the industry, the issues they are faced with and working together to find solutions to those issues,” Harper said.

Harper said his experience in the State Senate allows him to know how to pass laws that could help farmers in South Georgia.

He said the Freedom to Farm Act this year, and the Agriculture Education Act in 2018 are among his recent successes. Harper added that agricultural issues are more impactful than people realize.

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