Legislators, Peach Producers Discuss Disaster Relief for Peaches

Fort Valley, GA

Consumers will be seeing a lot less of Georgia’s signature fruit on shelves, as more than ninety percent of this year’s peach crop was lost after growers endured a late freeze just as their trees were starting bloom, which leaves them in a tough spot heading into the future.

“We’ve had several poor crops, and this year is the worst crop in thirty years, and we’re just pretty devastated about trying to get through this,” says Robert Dickey, Chairman of the House Ag Committee. “We’re needing to plant more acres and carry our trees until next year. So, hopefully we can get some disaster relief funding to supplement our other income.

It’s a call for help Georgia Senator, Jon Ossoff is hoping to answer promptly, in order to keep the state’s number one industry running strong.

“The federal government and US Department of Agriculture have a role to play in ensuring that farmers and growers in Georgia and across the country who face this kind of risk and put their livelihoods and their resources on the line every year with uncertainty about tough weather and other things that can impact their crop,” says Senator Ossoff. “The federal government has a role to play in providing smart, targeted disaster assistance.”

It’s an issue Ossoff says he will push hard for once back in the nation’s capital, despite some of the pushback it is likely to receive.

“What I want to do is, as we move through the appropriations process in congress, see if we can appropriate targeted, smart disaster relief funds for Georgia’s peach growers. Of course, you know, as polarized and divided as the political environment is these days, it’s tough to get things done. but my job is to represent all Georgians, including Georgia agriculture. So, I’m going to work to try and get this done,” says Ossoff.

That assistance is vital for the peach industry and its future, as crop insurance isn’t near enough to cover this type of devastation.

“It’s tough. We’ll have to borrow lots more money to make it until next year, and it’s, it’s a whole twelve months until, until we get income again,” says Dickey.

“That’s an emergency situation where the existing programs may not be sufficient and targeted relief may be necessary. So, while the existing crop insurance programs can be helpful, sometimes you need supplemental help when you have a situation that is as dire as this one. And it’s in our state’s interest and our nation’s interest to ensure that farmers stay on their feet,” says Ossoff.

In turn keep the state on its feet as this disaster has far reaching implications on the entire economy here in Georgia. [Robert]

“We’ve got processors that cannot do the processing, consumers looking for Georgia peaches. We’re losing our customers. They’re going to other fruits and vegetables. We’re doing a lot of mail ordering now, and we’ve got regular customers that can’t receive their peaches. It’s just a cascade of issues and problems that we are facing this year. Not to mention trying to keep our trees healthy and going until next year,” says Dickey.