North Alabama farmers take big hit from drought

(WAFF) - Dry and hot conditions are wreaking havoc on local crops. 6 Alabama counties are now considered drought disaster areas by the USDA.
"We've lost cucumbers, we've lost some cabbage, we've lost some zucchini," said producer farmer, Jerry Hammonds. "As a matter of fact, we've had to replant the squash and the cucumbers."

Jerry Hammonds is dealing with it firsthand. He co-owns E & J produce farm in Lacey's Spring. Hammond says farmers like himself are experiencing the worst drought since 2007.
"Probably 7 to 8 inches below normal this time of year," said Hammonds. "That just raises havoc with all those crops."
Hammonds says the dry weather and extreme heat are killing crops and stalling the growth of produce that should now be ripe.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated DeKalb and Jackson counties in Northeast Alabama as primary disaster areas. Cherokee, Etowah, Madison and Marshall counties are also included. With the summer's heat and lack of rain, farmers are scrambling to minimize the damage to their crops. Many North Alabama farmers are taking a financial hit this year
"We do have plenty of green tomatoes," said Hammonds. " Anybody wants green tomatoes, they can come down and get those."
The USDA is now offering assistance for farmers labeled in the drought disaster areas. They qualify for a low interest loan to help pay for this year's crop losses. 

Though Hammonds isn't eligible, he's still expecting a d rop in profits. "We won't know for several more weeks yet, exactly what kind of loss we're going to have. It's probably going to be significant."
As for farmers in the 6 drought disaster counties, they have 8 months from the date of declaration to apply for a low interest loan from the USDA.

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