WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) — There is a growing problem happening on Georgia farms. It’s the not crops causing the issue; it’s the number of farmers filing for bankruptcy. Farmers are trying to recover from the brutal weather, tariffs, and lingering effects. In a report published by the Farm Bureau, farm debt in 2019 is projected to be a record-high at $416 billion.
“We are kind of at the mercy whoever brokers the crop,” said the owner of Byne Blueberry Farm, Dick Byne. “So many times, they say this is what we are going to offer you. Then you say, that is way to low to break even, but that’s the only price that’s out there to take.”
The state of Georgia is in the top 10 with 37 total farm bankruptcy filings over 12 months ending in September. Byne told NewsChannel 6 reporter, Devin Johnson, some of his colleagues are suffering.
“It’s like losing a child; it is fading away,” explained Byne. “What can you do to get them back? That’s what is on your mind because that is your future, that is what you love.”
Byne says even though millions of dollars in assistance have been awarded, many farmers are still waiting for federal aid. But he says that money is not going to dig them out of the hole.
“So many times we wait until it is too late, then you have forgotten what you did the year before, and you have the numbers,” said Byne. “You need an inventory, you need to know what is exactly is going on with your farm so you can project that for the future.”
And pecan farmers are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Michael.
“You cannot put a tree that has been knocked down, and push it back up in place and expect it to have the same projection,” explained Byne. “Because you’ve lost half of your roots.”
Blueberry farmers took a considerable hit when freezing temperatures impacted crops back in 2018. The Waynesboro blueberry farmer says they still need to plan for the season.
“The end of the plant has energy, what are you doing with that energy?” asked Byne. “If it is sitting there going to waste and it’s not setting fruit, it’s going to hurt you in the spring.”
The AJC reports, payments have been made on about 18 percent of Georgia applications, which has now risen to more than 2,300 applications, according to the US Department of Agriculture.