US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue as well as Representatives Sanford Bishop and Austin Scott surveyed the damage at Mason Pecan Farms in Fort Valley Friday afternoon. What they found was destruction.
Secretary Perdue said getting on the ground let him "really see the degree of devastation that Hurricane Irma wreaked upon this area."
Unlike annual plants, each pecan tree that needs to be replaced will take years to yield a new crop.
According to Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia's 8th District, "It takes 20 years to grow another one of these trees."
Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said other crops like cotton also took a hit.
"We thought we may have dodged a bullet, but now, we’ve seen quite a bit of wind damage which is, we believe, beginning to shut the plant down. and we may in fact have greater losses there. That number we’ve been using has been somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent, but I’m afraid we’re going to see that go up. "
Representative Scott says Congress must find a way to financially protect farmers from storms like this in the future.
"Our goal as we go back and write the farm bill will be to work with the associations, with the growers, to try to find a way to provide an affordable insurance program that will help minimize the loss any time we have a storm like this."
For now, though, growers will have to lean on the resources currently available as they put farms back together.
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