McMillan seeks drought emergency status

Published 5:49 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Drought conditions have impacted Alabama’s crop yields, imperiling farmers in the southern third of the state to the point where federal emergency aid will be needed, says Commissioner John McMillan of the state Department of Agriculture & Industries.
“Today, I am requesting a review of drought conditions in the state in order to begin the process of declaring a federal drought emergency,” McMillan said.
Supporting McMillan’s concerns about the summer drought is today’s crop acreage report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating that conditions for about one-third of Alabama’s leading crops range from poor to very poor. Only 27 percent are rated good or excellent.
“Right now, all counties in the southern tier of Alabama are suffering an extreme drought,” McMillan said. “Other counties will follow suit if our current low rainfall pattern persists. The next two weeks are critical. This is especially frustrating for farmers in a year when commodity prices are at record highs. Based on information from the U.S. Drought Monitor, crop acreage reports and other sources, I am recommending to Governor Bentley that certain counties be considered for a drought disaster declaration.”
The Farm Services Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will assess the governor’s request and take action, which in this case would include providing emergency aid to farmers impacted by the drought. This can include low interest loans and certain types of direct assistance, including the SURE Disaster program.
Twenty three counties in Georgia, most in the southwestern part of the state, were declared drought disaster areas.
“On the bright side, the USDA today reports that there are 50,500 additional acres planted this year versus 2010,” McMillan said.