Crops, livestock are threatened

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ATLANTA --- Donald Chase spent part of the week cleaning a clogged line on a massive irrigation system that he's run almost nonstop since it stopped raining in south Georgia.

Donald Chase adjusts the water at an irrigation pond on his farm in Oglethorpe, Ga. Severe drought and hot weather are hurting farmers across Georgia.   John Bazemore/Associated Press
John Bazemore/Associated Press
Donald Chase adjusts the water at an irrigation pond on his farm in Oglethorpe, Ga. Severe drought and hot weather are hurting farmers across Georgia.

Breakdowns are becoming more common as farmers such as Chase tax their irrigation machines trying to make up for the water they have not received from Mother Nature this spring. Georgia is suffering from a severe drought that has forced farmers to delay or give up planting some crops. Crops on land without irrigation systems could likely die. Farmers must contend with expensive electricity bills to run those irrigation systems and are even sending dairy cows to slaughter after the sun has baked their pasture and hay.

Speaking from atop his irrigation pivot, Chase, 46, looked around his 1,600 acres of farmland in Oglethorpe and likened it to Arizona -- hot and dusty.

"I've got to be honest with you," he said. "I'm a pretty optimistic soul. I've been really fortunate, but this is as desperate a situation as we've ever been in."

It has been a dry year in south Georgia. In Moultrie, weather sensors show it has received just 16 inches of rain this year, while 25 inches is normal for this time of year. And the rain hasn't come at the best time for growers. They've received about 3 inches of water since April, during their growing season.

Conditions aren't much better farther north, where Chase said his corn crop needs roughly 2 inches of water a week at this point in the season, though it has been getting half of that. And irrigation is not a cure-all for dry weather. Plants never even sprouted at the edge of Chase's fields, where irrigation nozzles cannot reach.

One 40-acre pond feeding one of his corn fields has run dry. And the Flint River, where Chase gets water for his other fields, is low.

"You can see sandbars really easily," he said.

Surveys suggest crops across the state are suffering. A U.S. Department of Agriculture tally for the week ending June 12 found that 42 percent of the state's corn crop was in poor or very poor condition. The same was true for 46 percent of the cotton crop and 73 percent of the pastures and ranges.

"Many of the dry land fields have severe damage, and some have completely burned up from the drought and severe heat," Mike Hayes, a Wheeler County agriculture extension agent, said in the report. "Some of the irrigated fields are also getting in bad shape as farmers are running out of (water) in their irrigation ponds."

The drought has hurt small dairy farmers who must buy corn to feed their herds when drought and heat makes it impossible to grow hay or keep healthy pastures. Corn prices have risen sharply because of flooding in the Midwest and the use of the corn to make the alternative fuel ethanol, said Farrah Newberry, the executive director of the Georgia Milk Producers.

As a result, some farmers have opted to slaughter parts of their cow herds for beef.

"When you can't feed hay and pastures are dry, it really puts pressure on our dairy farmers," Newberry said.

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TK3 06/19/11 - 11:02 am
Not only is Big Brothers

Not only is Big Brothers mandated ethanol in gas destroying engine parts of autos, yard power tools and mowers it also helps decrease the availability of corn for food and feed products and thus help cause a drastic rise in the price of corn and hunger in many parts of the world.

"Corn prices have risen sharply because of flooding in the Midwest and the use of the corn to make the alternative fuel ethanol, said Farrah Newberry"

"When you can't feed hay and pastures are dry, it really puts pressure on our dairy farmers," Newberry said."

Thus the corn problems will also raise prices of milk and kids will suffer.

copperhead 06/19/11 - 06:40 pm
God is punishing Georgia for

God is punishing Georgia for trying to enforce immigration laws. God doesn't like profiling. This could be a warning-open your borders or dry up!

addisons65 06/20/11 - 11:22 am
Copperhead, you are WAY too

Copperhead, you are WAY too funny! "Open your borders or dry up"? That's the best one I've heard yet!! Nature is punishing us. I abhor the people who have to have a green lawns in the middle of a drought. ALL water sprinklers should be banned and all the car washes closed! I, personally, would rather have water to drink and to bathe in. IF it came down to it, I'd rather have food and smell a little funky, too. M2CW.

starrweaver 06/20/11 - 12:36 pm
I'm so sick of Ethanol being

I'm so sick of Ethanol being pushed on us. "Biodiesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Biodiesel can be used alone, or blended with petro-diesel. Biodiesel can also be used as a low carbon alternative to heating oil." wikki
Now algae is a plant that doubles it's mass every 24hrs. They had experimented in 2006 with "green triangles" attached to a factory chimney - it absorbed most of the pollutants in the flue gases, leaving them some 80 percent cleaner. Every day, the tubes are drained mostly of algae to collect the last 24 hours of growth, leaving just enough for the new generation to catch up.
To read or watch more about this go here it's from the pbs special series that was aired back in 2006.

Another article was published in 2007 about how some "farmers" are going into "green energy production". If you want to know the yields of algae in comparison to corn or soybean, take a look here -
But if you think about it, corn & soybean are harvested once a year. While the algae "tubes" are havested daily. I'm sure you can guess which makes more per years harvest.

What bothers me most is that these links go to research done years ago - yet we are STILL slaves to the gas pump and Big Oil. If more funds went into developing green energies (NOT corn based ethanol) and stop giving millions to Big Oil in subsidies they DON'T NEED...we may be able to fix our energy problems. Plus the big side effect of this would be MORE JOBS!
We really need to start making the wealthy pay a fair share of the revenue that goes to running this country. For ten years they got a free ride & then the GOP held the people hostage at the end of the year - threatening in WRITING that they would allow nothing to be done in congress - (striking & delaying vital legislation) UNLESS they got the Bush Tax cuts (the extra cuts for the richest people in the US) passed into law. Now I don't know about you - but that is just plain wrong.
Blackmailing the PotUS to get tax breaks for the rich CEO's and backers who got them into office while refusing to extend health insurance, unemployment to people hurting in this country. Plus they refused to ratify the treaties with anther country putting us at risk security wise.
They've done nothing but push anti-abortion, privatizing social security and cutting medicare/medicaid since they have held the majority of the House. Defunding EPA, Planned Parenthood, PBS and NPR - these and others have all been in their target sights. They've claimed financial emergencies & used that to do power grabs that are despicable. They've been trying to bust up unions, stripping budgeted funds from education k-12 and even colleges haven't escaped cuts. Just this last week they've attacked WIC and cut it to the point of endangering tens of thousands of women and children across the country.

There are so many issues facing us that are threats to our survival - and the GOP has just added itself to that list. We need help across the board, we need the greedy to stop demanding money and for everyone to come together to help us all survive this time of great hardships.
This isn't as bad as it was 150 years ago...but we've not had to deal with these types of problems all at once for some time. We need to try to help one another so that we in turn are helped.

United we stand - divided we fall - those words are ringing louder than ever. But will we listen this time?

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