Farm damage estimates continue to rise after Michael

Georgia News

Farmers are hoping for federal help to deal with crop losses due to Hurricane Michael. 

Georgia’s Agriculture Commissioner, Gary Black, started the week introducing more than a dozen farmers to President Trump and the First Lady as they toured hard-hit areas near Macon. 

Black said the agriculture industry in the Peach State is navigating uncharted waters in the aftermath of the storm.

“In the face of an unprecedented storm we have to think some unprecedented thoughts moving forward and find some solutions that’s gonna help these folks,” Black said.

Before Michael carved a destructive trail through Georgian farmlands, the Peach State stood as a perennial leader in agriculture in the U.S.

“Our leading commodities, like peanuts and forest products and pecans and cotton and vegetables, those things that we lead in the production of, unfortunately, we lead in their destruction of now,” said Black.

He said new numbers are available about damage to the poultry producers. Friday, there were 54 poultry houses reported to have been destroyed by Michael. Now that number is 94.

Black personally introduced 15 farmers to the President, to share their stories with the Commander-in-Chief. 

“He listened, you know, there are very short time frames, but very productive, but very productive minute and two-minute conversations with each of them,” Black said.

The commissioner says it’s going to take some innovative thinking and creative financing to help keep Georgia farmers afloat after this storm. 

“We’ve got to design some things, we’ve never designed before because this is a storm, we have damage we’ve never faced before,” said Black. “So he told the secretary, you know, we do what you have to do.”

Georgia’s 12th District Congressman, Republican Rick Allen, agrees. He toured his district over the weekend. 

“This thing is in the billions of dollars in damage and unless these farmers get assistance, I don’t know, yeah, I don’t know how they’re going to survive. We’ve got to get them assistance,” Allen said.

“I believe a part of this federal response moving forward is gonna have to be some type, something that will assist us in debt restructuring,”  said Black.

Commissioner Black says there will be a banking summit next week to tackle issues farmers are facing in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

He says private institutions, the farm credit system, and Georgia’s Development Authority will meet to explore some creative options to help farmers move forward with the financing they need to get their 2019 crops planted.

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