Hurricane damage to farms leaves lasting impact
CALHOUN COUNTY, Ga. - Farmers in South Georgia are still working to clean up the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Michael, but experts say the financial and economic impact will linger for years to come.
Georgia agriculture officials believe farmers have lost $480 million from hurricane damage.
Pecan farming experts with the Georgia Pecan Growers Association tell FOX 5, the industry has lost more than $200 million due to Hurricane Michael, and thousands of jobs could be lost with the diminished farm fields and damaged crops.
Georgia produces the most pecans nationwide.
Counties like Seminole have reported losing 100 percent of their crops, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
"They're going to lose their farms, they're going to lose their homes," said farmer Jess Jones of Calhoun County, who tells FOX 5 he lost two-thirds of his trees.
"Very very stressful. This should be the happy time of the year. It's going to be kind of sad," Jones said, telling FOX 5 he's lost millions of dollars in trees and lost harvest.
Jones said he cannot afford to keep paying the workers the same rate since work has now dried up.
Jones estimates the cleanup alone will cost $500,000 and take months.
It will take years to rebuild the pecan farms to their former glory, according to Doctor Lenny Wells, a pecan specialist and horticulturist with the University of Georgia.
"[It will take] seven to ten years to get a pecan tree back into significant production. A lot of these families have tough decisions to make," Wells said.
The Georgia Pecan Growers Association tell FOX 5 News, it plans to lobby federal lawmakers to give farmers more aid to help with cleanup costs.