Sparks: Farmers in "potential crisis mode"

MONTGOMERY, AL - Agriculter Commissioner Ron Sparks warns that Alabama agricultural producers are in a potential crisis mode concerning the fall 2009 crop harvest, according to a recent assessment conducted across the state.

Sparks' office says prior to September, many producers were expecting to harvest a "bumper" crop and were very optimistic for the upcoming harvest season. Uncommon and unfavorable precipitation during September and October have degraded various crops and caused poor harvesting conditions, which caused the harvest to be behind schedule by around four to six weeks, Sparks said.

The major crops impacted by the recent rainfall are cotton, soybeans, corn and peanuts.  Reports indicate that Alabama is in dire need of dry weather within the next two weeks, which may eliminate a potential state disaster. Producers are already suffering from heavy September and October rainfalls and dry conditions will not eliminate damage that has already taken place to crops across the state.  Many producers are experiencing a sharp decrease in crop yield, lower grading and crop damage from recent rainfall.

On top of poor weather and harvesting conditions, producers will likely see decreased income for their commodities.  With the current economic times, Alabama agricultural producers from various commodity levels will likely face decreased profits for the 2009 growing season.  According to a recent USDA release, net farm income is forecast to be $54 billion in 2009, down $33.2 billion (38 percent) from the preliminary estimate of $87.2 billion for 2008.  The 2009 forecast is $9 billion below the average of $63.2 billion in net farm income earned in the previous 10 years.

Commissioner Sparks says that costs of necessities such as fuel and fertilizer have decreased as compared to the past two seasons.  However, most all agriculture commodity market prices have dropped tremendously over the past 8 to 12 months, which may contribute to farm profit losses.

"The bottom line is that Alabama producers are uncertain as to what the commodity markets will bring forth and where agriculture in our state is going," says Sparks.  "The recent weather conditions over the past two months will definitely have a negative impact on Alabama's crop harvest."

Information Source: Agriculture Commissioner's Office