Farmers Declare Crops 'A Loss' - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR--Brad Bean Reports

Farmers Declare Crops 'A Loss'

July 27, 2005--Posted at 10:30 PM CST

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY--The temperatures have cooled off, but the heat left its mark on Region 8 crops. The month of May was unusually dry and June wasn't much different.

Region 8 farmers are worried that this year's harvest is going to be one of the worst in years. Over the last three weeks, Jonesboro has received nearly 6 inches of rain, but in many parts of Region 8, farmers say they haven't seen the long and steady rains needed to produce a good fall harvest all season. As a result,  their crops are ruined.

Farmer Joe Christian said, "The fuel prices are doubling in the last year, and our fertilizer prices are doubling in the last two years.  We are in a no win situation."

Christian's words are a echo of  Region 8 farmers; one's of concern and worry. The price of fuel has skyrocketed, as well as his cost of inputs; fertilizer, machinery and man power. Add in a drought, and you have the combination to put a man out of business.

Christian said, "Used to, we would have low crop prices, but our inputs would be low enough to were we could survive. I think that this is going to be really tough winter."

50 or so farmers from Craighead County have asked the federal government for help. Larry Ladd, of the Farm Service Agency, says that the large cost of inputs, as well as the small amount of nature's outputs are emptying farmers wallets.

"The rice and cotton is pretty much all water anyway, but it is costing them so much to keep the fields pumped up even on the rice. The price of fuel has effected them more that way," said Ladd.

Ladd is planning on asking the state to ask the federal government for funds to help farmers. He says it won't help them turn a profit, but help them survive.

"When you have year like this, no one really comes out on top. These programs are designed to help them, not to make or break them. It is just to help them suffer through the loss," said Ladd.

Christian said, "I don't think that we (farmers) can make it another year. I don't think the banks will loan us money to put our crops in. This economy in Northeast Arkansas still depends on farmers."

Already, land owners have asked 100,000 acres of the 360,000 acres farmed in Craighead County be declared a loss. In the coming months, Ladd will give the state the estimates of the agricultural losses in the county. Farmers will not see any financial help until next fall.

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