Farmers Praying for Rain

April 21, 2006--Posted at 6:20 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR--While most people sing "Rain, rain, go away" Region 8 farmers are singing a different tune.

"It's a God send, it's wonderful we needed it and you know we have been through a drought," said Greene County farmer Keith Fielder.

While most of the fields in Region 8 are moist after a couple days of rain, farmers say with the right mix of dry conditions, they could be forced to flush their fields in less than week.

"Anytime you have to flush to bring the rice up it costs money in your fuel, because you use a couple gallons an hour," said Fielder.

With diesel prices running over 2 dollars a gallon, a couple days of soaking rain helps to lighten the burden on a farmers wallet.

"It could save several thousands of dollars...easy," said Fielder.

In addition to higher costs, flushing fields with water adds more wear and tear on machines, plus takes more labor. With crop prices regulated by an exchange, added costs don't mean higher prices.

"If fuel goes up, our input costs go up and we can't say we need more for the rice," said Fielder.

With the current high fuel costs already taking a toll on a farmer's bottom line, farmers are dependent on Mother Nature to continue their livelihood.

"If you don't have rain, you can't grow anything," said Fielder.

It's that rationalization that is driving some farmers in the area to change crops or get out of the business all together.

"I don't know what we could grow right here in this area. This right here is rice and soybean area," said Fielder.

In order for Region 8 to stay an agricultural powerhouse, farmers are praying the next few months will be made of more days like the last few.