MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - ALFA officials say that about 500,000 people in the state work in the agriculture industry. Those people could be feeling the heat to turn a profit after some intense heat and lack of rain across our state.
Agriculture is Alabama’s largest industry, bringing in about $70 billion per year.
"It's something that really touches almost every person's life here in the state," says ALFA Director of National Affairs, Mitt Walker.
Over the past several weeks, the state has been pretty dry.
"I think we need to recognize that we are in a pretty serious mode of weather and climate changes that we need to address," says Sen. Doug Jones.
“The drought monitor map has grown over the past month significantly. Additionally, we are consulting with our partners with USDA both on a state and a national level pertaining to the federal programs available due to drought. To date, four Alabama counties have been declared a secretarial disaster county due to drought. We anticipate this number increasing,” says Deputy Agriculture Commissioner, Hassey Brooks.
This could mean bad news for farmers.
“The forecast at least for the short term shows continued hot dry weather so it certainly could get worse before it gets better,” Walker says.
Walker says that when it comes to row crops, it’s actually time for harvest. That means that the intense heat and lack of rain aren’t making much of an impact, but when it comes to livestock farmers, these hot dry conditions are hitting them right in their pastures and their pockets.
"In the southeast, we look at having to feed hay during the winter months when grass is not available," Walker says. "With a drought like this, they are having to feed hay during a time of year when they typically wouldn't which runs their input costs up quite a bit."
There are some programs available through USDA for farmers who qualify for assistance.