Articles, Blog

Farm Monitor – October 19, 2019


[Announcer]
HI THERE. SO GLAD YOU COULD JOIN US FOR A SPECIAL EDITION
OF THE FARM MONITOR, I SAY SPECIAL BECAUSE OF COURSE, THIS MONTH MARKS THE 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
OF HURRICANE MICHAEL CARVING A PATH THROUGH GEORGIA, SO FOR THIS SHOW, WE FELT IT WAS
IMPORTANT TO REVISIT SOME OF THE STORIES WE FIRST BROUGHT YOU IN THE DAYS AND WEEKS AFTER
MICHAEL AND SHOW YOU THE STRUGGLES THAT A LOT OF PRODUCERS ARE STILL DEALING WITH A
YEAR LATER. [KENNY]
YEAH RAY, TO THIS DAY, REMNANTS OF MICHAEL STILL SCATTERED THROUGHOUT SOUTH GEORGIA.==VO==
[On Todays Program] A NUMBER OF COMMODITIES SUFFERING CATASTROPHIC
LOSSES. JOHN HOLCOMB SPOKE TO A PECAN PRODUCER ABOUT
THE REBUILDING PROCESS AND WHY HE FEELS IT’LL BE NEARLY A DECADE BEFORE THINGS RETURN TO
THE WAY THEY WERE, “BEFORE” MICHAEL.==WIPE TO VO==
ALSO ON THE SHOW, THE GEORGIA TIMBER INDUSTRY WEIGHS IN ON “ITS” REBUILDING EFFORTS. DESPITE WHAT THEY CALL GENERATIONAL LOSSES,
THEY SAY THERE IS NOTHING BUT OPTIMISM WHEN LOOKING AHEAD TO THE FUTURE.==WIPE TO RAY/VO===
PLUS, YOU’RE ALSO GONNA GET TO SEE OUR ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATION WITH GEORGIA FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT
Gerald Long. PRESIDENT LONG DISCUSSING EVERYTHING FROM
HOW THE CITY OF BAINBRIDGE CAME TOGETHER AFTER ENDURING HEAVY DAMAGE, TO THE RECOVERY EFFORTS
ON THE PART OF GEORGIA FARM BUREAU. THESE STORIES AND SO MUCH MORE STARTING RIGHT
NOW ON THE FARM MONITOR. MON/Michael (Pecans)
[KENNY] ONE COULD CERTAINLY SAY THAT HURRICANE MICHAEL
LEFT A LASTING MARK ON GEORGIA’S AG INDUSTRY. THE DOLLAR FIGURE, IN THE BILLIONS! PECAN TREE‚ÄôS RIPPED FROM THEIR ROOTS. PEANUTS DESTROYED BY MICHAEL’S POUNDING RAINS. AND COTTON, SCATTERED FOR MILES. JOHN HOLCOMB BEGINS OUR COVERAGE AFTER SPENDING
TIME WITH PRODUCERS WHO ARE “LITERALLY” STILL PICKING UP THE PIECES ONE YEAR LATER.==PKG==
[Climax, GA/John Holcomb – Reporting] When you mention Hurricane Michael in southwest
Georgia, more times than not, you’ll get a look unlike any other. An indicator of that person having flashbacks
of a day they wish they never had to live through. A day that when producers like Andy Bell woke
up that morning, their world had been quite literally blown away. [Andy Bell/Co-Owner, Bell Farms]
One of the first things I did was go to the cotton fields to see how they looked, and
they were, as we expected, they were horrible. I mean we lost all of our cotton and half
of it was sprayed and ready to pick and the other half was just about, could have been
sprayed had it not been the hurricane coming, but we had an excellent crop and it was all
lost due to the storm. [John]
Since that day, now more than a year ago, they’ve had to pick up the pieces and continue
on. They decided to replant cotton again this
year, which prompted me to ask “why?” Why would you plant cotton again after losing
it all last year? But as Bell told me as we were checking out
his field, that’s all they can do, because that’s what a farmer does. [Andy Bell]
We plant cotton every year, we buy crop insurance that protects us somewhat from a hurricane. It’s not a, it’s about a seventy percent protection
as you know, crop insurance. So, we just lose the other thirty percent,
but we have some protection against a disaster like a hurricane or drought or whatever. But I guess we’re just farmers and we think
it’s going to be better the next year. And like I said, we have a good crop again
this year if we can get it gathered without another hurricane. [John]
Just a few miles down road from Bell’s farm in the town of Bainbridge, another victim
of hurricane Michael: Pecan Ridge Plantation. [Eric Cohen/Co-Owner, Pecan Ridge Plantation]
Hurricane Michael devastated our farm. We lost about thirty thousand trees, basically
six hundred and fifty acres. We lost our entire crop. And what’s really bad is we basically don’t
have a crop this year due to all the stress from the hurricane last year that was put
on our trees and we’re still losing trees. [John]
They, like Bell and everyone else, have been busy cleaning up the past twelve months. [Eric]
We just got cleaned up. It took us basically six months just to get
our orchards where we could even mow. You know, back in order that we could even
walk, run equipment on them. And then we started, we’ve been working on
irrigation, we’ve been leveling because it basically, the hurricane destroyed our floor
too. [John]
As you can see from the small trees everywhere, they’ve been busy replanting, but with high
demand on tree seedlings, they can’t get them fast enough. [Eric]
There’s so much demand on tree seedlings. We’re about a year to two years out of just
getting a tree. So, we’re still in the long run. We’re going to be about nine years out really
to get back to where we were in production. [John]
Amazingly, even with so much chaos and destruction in the past year, they still have hope that
everything will be alright. [Eric]
We’re moving forward, you know, hopefully we can get the price to go back up once, hopefully
the tariff situation, it gets solved and I understand China’s really wanting to come
back into market on pecans. They love Georgia pecans. So, we think we’ve got a good opportunity
going forward, you know, but we’ve just got to, we got to stay in it, you know, be really
careful, dodge future storms coming to try to get us there. [John]
Reporting in Climax for the Farm Monitor, I’m John Holcomb. MAIN MON/Storm (Timber)
[RAY] While cotton and pecans might have received
most of the attention, they weren’t the only commodities in Georgia to be affected by Hurricane
Michael, as timber also suffered more than $700 million-dollars’ worth of damage. However, as documented by Damon Jones, despite
the devastation, there is still plenty of optimism surrounding the future of the industry.==PKG==
[Music] [Produced by Damon Jones]
[Wayne Worsham – Georgia Registered Forester]
I would say that over 50% of the stand we probably had 80-100% total destruction is
what we had. So, it was pretty devastating to see and unless
you were here, you’ve never really seen anything like the damage that we had. [Scott Griffin ‚Äì Chief of Forest Management]
What we saw with hurricane Michael, we call it generational losses. I mean, it takes time to grow timber and their
land won’t look the same probably for that owner’s generation. It was changed. And I think a lot of people have come to the
realization with this hurricane and other storm events such tornadoes that, you know,
there’s some risk in leaving that standing timber when it’s mature and once it’s blown
over and broken and the fibers in the wood are messed up, then the value of that wood
goes down greatly, and just the prices they get for it are severely impacted. [Wayne]
What we normally do is plant a stand and tine 1,2,3 times and then clear cut, age 25-35. And then you replant with the money that you
had at the final harvest. Well, that’s not here anymore. So, that’s your big issue, is there’s no money
for a lot of these landowners to replant. [Scott]
There’s a lot of cleanup going on. The state had a $20 million program there
shortly after Hurricane Michael which was for forest debris management. And we’ve processed about and paid about 25%
of those contracts at this point. So, there’s still another 75% out there that
have, that are still working on their lands and still cleaning up. [Wayne]
You know, timber is a long-term investment and we’re going to plant here, and it will
be this winter and it will be 12 years and we’ll do a thinning. And then, so, if you add all the acres that
we lost up here, it’s a big benefit to this region, the Georgia Reforestation Tax Credit. But overall, we can get this, we got timber
to sustain us. And then, we can get a lot of this damaged
acres replanted through professional forest management and some of the Georgia state tax
credits and some cost share programs. [Scott]
There’s just a lot of optimism now from forest landowners in the area. Shortly after the hurricane it was, and understandably,
were very upset and very pessimistic, I guess about forestry. But, you know, that optimism has retuned and,
you know, we all realize what a good investment forestry is and how important it is to Georgia’s
economy. [Wayne]
We’ve had two new mills built in this area in the last year from the ground up, sawmills. We got one that’s adding production at the
end of the year. So, the economy is really good, and the timber
industry is really good. [Scott]
The timber prices are back to somewhat normal. That salvage window has closed. Those trees, if they haven’t been harvested,
they’ve deteriorated and they’re no longer useful and the stumpage prices are back to
normal. [Wayne]
It’s probably a 3-5-year window and then we’ll probably have everything back to normal by
then. And long range it will be good. It’s just getting over the hump. You know, this was a devastating hurricane
and unless you were here or still here, you just don’t understand it. And it just takes time. [Music]
===WIPE TO RAY/VO===[After the break]
AFTER THE BREAK; BATTERED, BRUISED, BEATEN DOWN. YOU NAME IT AND THE CITY OF BAINBRIDGE WAS
FEELING IT AFTER MICHAEL. BUT AS A NATIVE AND BUSINESS OWNER, GEORGIA
FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT Gerald Long DISCUSSES THE MANY WAYS IN WHICH THE COMMUNITY CAME
TOGETHER AND, IN SOME WAYS, GOT EVEN STRONGER. MAIN MON/Michael 1-year later
[KENNY] IF YOU’RE JUST JOINING US, WE’RE SPENDING
THE MAJORITY OF THIS SHOW LOOKING BACK, AND! MOVING FORWARD, ONE-YEAR AFTER HURRICANE MICHAEL,
AND LIKE SO MANY OTHERS, THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA WASTED NO TIME IN QUICKLY DEPLOYING
ITS RESOURCES IN THE DAYS AND WEEKS FOLLOWING MICHAEL. AS DOCUMENTED IN THIS NEXT FEATURE, UGA EXTENSION
SPARED “NO” RESOURCES IN PROVIDING STORM VICTIMS THE HELP THEY NEEDED.===PKG====
[music] [News Anchor Voice]
This is some of the aftermath left by Hurricane Michael as crops, trees and buildings were
blown over by more than 100 mile an hour wind. One of the crops most affected was cotton
as this year’s bumper yield was wiped away in a matter of hours and the timing of the
storm couldn’t have been any worse. [Mark McCann]
Well there’s never a good time for a hurricane to arrive on your doorstep but of all times
for it to show up here on the very beginning edge of what was going to be a
banner harvest season for us and the state of Georgia, was particularly tough. [Kenny Burgamy]
Year in and year out Georgia is the nation’s top producer of pecans. It was
expected to be more of the same this year with a harvest predicted to exceed
110 million pounds – not anymore. [Farmer]
Our pounds – our poundage – it’s going to be really affected
[Mark McCann] The news stories – TV, local TV – do a pretty
good job of covering sort of the social and family at the home impact but in terms of
an industry and particularly agriculture in those counties the way to connect that and
get that information was really left up to extension. [Bobby Barber Jr.] I talked to them before the rain and we ended
up making a spray on some peanuts to try to keep them – one more fungicide spray and I,
we called and asked what would be the what they recommend because I knew those peanuts
were due to dig but and we knew the storm was coming. We asked them those kinds of questions all
the time. [Mark McCann]
So we really use agents and and commodity based specialists to gather the field numbers,
both estimates and some that we had more precise measures in,
we made sure when we put these numbers out that they were going to be on the conservative
side and there would be numbers that we could stand behind as
an agency and as we put together a two-page document the real goal was to have us all
on one page together with the same set of numbers because it was
really important that we were all on the same page. The other impact to make the public aware
of was – what does it look like? There’s one thing to say the pecan industry
lost so many million dollars, it’s another thing to look at a 50-year-old pecan orchard
and 90% of the trees are horizontal on the ground. [Rob Cohen]
And it’ll take us you know leaning on people in Extension like Dr. Wells, the local Extension
agents around here to help us look at that and make sure that we’re not making emotional
decisions out here because this is still a business even though it is a family farm it
has to be treated like a business entity. [Mark McCann]
So as we looked at trying to share our story and tell the story of the impact it’s a combination. It’s a combination of numbers. It’s a combination of visual impacts and also
the stories and the impact on people. And so as you look as we package things together
that was really our goal was convey and touch on all three of those topics. [music fades out] MON/STORM (GERALD)
[RAY] YEAH, THEY CERTAINLY DO AN EXCELLENT JOB DON’T
THEY? WHEN ASKED HIS THOUGHTS ON THE LESSON’S LEARNED
FROM HURRICANE MICHAEL, GEORGIA FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT GERALD LONG RESPONDED SAYING QUOTE
“TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED AND LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME”
LIKE SO MANY OTHERS, PRESIDENT LONG, A LIFETIME RESIDENT OF BAINBRIDGE, GEORGIA ENDURED HEAVY
PROPERTY DAMAGE FROM MICHAEL. BUT, LIKE EVERYONE IN BAINBRIDGE HE VOWED
TO REBUILD BOTH PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY. AND AS WE FOUND OUT ON THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY
OF MICHAEL HITTING GEORGIA, HE’S DONE JUST THAT.==DISSOLVE TO PKG==
[Piano Music] [Bainbridge, Georgia/October 11, 2019]
[Ray] So, when you look around, if someone didn’t
know any better, you really wouldn’t think a major storm came through here. I mean, you don’t see much damage now, but
obviously we know better. Take us back, Mister Long, to those days following
Hurricane Michael. I mean, just how bad was it? Set the scene for us. [Gerald Long/President, Georgia Farm Bureau]
Well, you know, on October the 10th, that morning, I was in Macon. And I talked to the wife and to our son Justin,
and I said, “You know, I think I’ll come home,” you know, “I don’t think it’s gonna be that
bad. “I think I’ll come home today.” So I did, and by probably three o’clock, the
wind really started picking up. By seven o’clock on October the 10th, that
afternoon, it really started getting bad. And so, one year ago this morning, when we
woke up to leave the house at daybreak, we could go neither direction on the highway
’cause there was trees all on the highways and all. [Newscaster]
Bainbridge was one of the areas heavily affected by the storm. Bainbridge, of course, the hometown of Georgia
Farm Bureau president Gerald Long. [Ray]
Obviously downtown Bainbridge, a lot of buildings, a lot of damage, but in the year, this town
has really come together. What does it say about this… [President Long]
Oh, it has. [Ray]
community? [President Long]
Well, it, you know, this town has always been a real close-knit town, and it done a lot
of damage to a lot of our historic buildings, a lot of the older houses that’s been here
for many years. And so, it had a very major impact, but, you
know, our local government really pulled together, the leadership. And remember, these families go way back for
generations. So, they pulled together, started the next
day cleaning up, and it’s still– there, you know, there’s still areas that’s not, not
rebuilt yet because of that, a year later. [Ray]
Right. [President Long]
So, it’s been a, I guess it’s a lot of good comes out of things like that by communities
coming together and working together. It’s been great. [Ray]
You, as president of Georgia Farm Bureau, talk a little bit about how this organization
came together and really reached out to people in need. [President Long]
Well, immediately, we saw that we needed to step up and help the farmers in some way,
and that’s when we started the disaster relief fund. You know, we was able in a very short period
of time to raise some $665,000. We went through application process, and within
a month and a half to two month’s time, we got the applications, and we dispersed
the money to the ones that applied for it, and every penny that was raised by the donor,
by us through the donors, and not just donors in Georgia. It was throughout the country that donated
to this cause. [Ray]
Right. [President Long]
And every penny went back to the farmers themselves. Now, it made no one whole. There’s no way we could make anyone whole
because out of that $665,000, the applications we got added up to $126 million damage, so
that’s just a small fraction, but that was our way of saying, “We know you’re hurting. We want to help whatever way we can to help
rural Georgia.” And that’s what we done. [Ray]
I appreciate your time. Thanks for having us down here. [President Long]
Thank you, Ray. [Ray]
Thank you. [President Long]
Sure. [Piano Music Fades out] MAIN MON/FARM MONITOR
[KENNY] GREAT JOB RAY AND OUR THANKS TO PRESIDENT
LONG FOR TAKING TIME OUT OF HIS SCHEDULE TO SHARE HIS THOUGHTS WITH US. WELL, THAT WRAPS UP OUR TIME LOOKING BACK
AT WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED SINCE HURRICANE MICHAEL, BUT THE SHOW ISN’T OVER… [After the break]
AFTER THE BREAK, RANGER NICK CHECKS IN FOR HIS MONTHLY FEATURE. HE’S GONNA TELL US HOW SUSTAINABILITY, UGA
STUDENTS AND TINY HOUSES LIKE THIS ONE – ALL RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER. STAY TUNED. MON/RANGER NICK
[RAY] FINALLY THIS WEEK, FOR SOMEONE WITH SUCH A
“LARGE” PERSONALITY YA GOTTA WONDER HOW THE “TINY HOUSE” MOVEMENT CAUGHT THE ATTENTION
OF RANGER NICK. [KENNY]
THIS MONTH, HE SHOWS US HOW STUDENTS AND FACULTY AT UGA ARE ALSO JUMPING ON THE SO CALLED,
“TINY HOUSE BANDWAGON”==PKG==
[Fast Paced Music] [Athens, Georgia]
[Dr. Nick Fuhrman/UGA Professor, “Ranger Nick”] Well, here I am back in Athens, Georgia, right
off campus at UGA and I’m standing in front of this beautiful barn where the Ranger Nick
series originally started. We did our very first segment almost six years
ago on owl boxes and I want to show you a box today of another type, a tiny house box,
and how University of Georgia students are involved in not only building this, but making
decisions about this unit and how this is being used in agriculture all over Georgia. Let me introduce you to a friend who’s inside. Come on. [Door Knock]
[Ranger Nick] Oh, hey Kim, hey, good to see you again. Everybody, Dr. Kim Skobba. She is a world development specialist with
a specialty in housing and Kim has been intimately involved in getting this place built with
students. Now, word on the street is, students were
heavily involved in getting this done. Dr. Skobba, how does that work with college
students at UGA doing this? Nothing against them, but I couldn’t do this. How do they do it? [Dr. Kim Skobba/UGA Associate Professor]
Right, well, they really did build from the ground, or trailer, up, and so that every
piece of this house has been touched by a student, and so…but they didn’t come in
knowing really much of anything. Most of the students didn’t have any skills
and so we started off with pretty simple basic skills. [Nick]
And how does this begin? Is this with balsa wood or notecards? How did they learn to go from something small
to this? [Kim]
[Inaudible] We discovered after the first class, the first time we taught the class,
that students really didn’t have really much if any knowledge about tool use and even just
measuring and cutting and so we developed a project building bluebird houses, and so
we had all of the students build their own bluebird house. We found that that project really gave them
the skills to…to launch their ability to work on this house. [Nick]
And probably put a feather in their cap, no pun intended, and be able to work in a team
and think critically to do these kinds of things, from cutting wood to putting things
together. Incredible stuff. What I think we need to do is; I want to talk
specifically about some of the features of this place. How students were involved in maybe putting
things like this and the lights and other things in and I want to introduce the folks
at home to another friend of mine, that was intimately involved in this as well, so let’s
go there next. [Nick]
So we learned what students have been involved with in terms of putting this tiny house together
and the decisions that were made, but I want to introduce you to a gentleman that knows
a thing or two about the special features of this place and that happens to be David
Berle. David, good to see you! [David]
Yeah, you too Nick. [Nick]
I appreciate you being out here with me. David’s got a passion for tiny houses and
so David, the beauty that’s inside of this place right now, I’m looking at this beautiful
wood and how this place looks. How did you all get this wood, what is this
stuff? [David Berle/UGA Associate Professor]
So, all the wood on the inside of the house came from trees that fell down in storms right
before or actually a year or so before the house was built and we picked hickory trees,
there was a hickory tree that fell and that’s what makes up the floor. There’s tongue and groove variable width flooring,
the walls, you see real pretty walls, is actually poplar and that was from a poplar tree that
fell down on the site and the gap between is called nickel gap tongue and groove so
it’s kind of made to look specifically that way. And then the rafters up above are from a white
oak tree that had fallen on the property. [Nick]
Right here at the UGArden? [David]
Yeah all just right out here in this field right outside from the tiny house. [Nick]
We talk about reusing and repurposing, and what a beautiful story there. Now, other features besides the beautiful
wood, I’m thinking about the water here. Y’all are not hooked up with water right now. [David]
Not currently, no. [Nick]
Okay, but typically a tiny house would be plugged in to a campground or something, is
that right, and get water that way? [David]
Well, there’s different ways, the actual plumbing is pretty standard, with a water source instead
of it coming from city water, through a copper pipe up to your house. Basically you plumb it so that you can hook
a hose up to it. So you use a sanitary hose, and if you were
at, like an RV park, you would hook up to the hose there. If you’re on a farm, you hook up to a hose
on your farm, with a well, or water source nearby. [Nick]
Now Kim, I’m looking at the wheels on the outside of this guy. This house is staying here, the other houses
that have been built, where have they ended up? How have they benefited AG? [Kim]
Yeah, so the first two houses that we built were in partnership with Georgia Organics,
so the two homes went to small, organic farms, and they served the role as providing farm
worker or farm manager housing, or summer interns, so they filled that gap often times
just as small towns, rural communities, might not have housing available for everybody. That’s a problem that small farms face too,
and so these homes would fill that gap. [Nick]
Incredible story. Kim, thanks so much for spending time with
me today. I hope y’all are seeing the benefits for students,
and the public and for AG by a dwelling like this, incredible. Y’all know what to do, when you’re online
watching other YouTube videos of the Ranger Nick segments, take a look around and see
what I’ve got going on on Facebook, check me out there, and until next time, Kim as
we always say, I’m Ranger Nick reminding you that enthusiasm is contagious, so pass it
on. Y’all thanks so much for joining us, we’ll
look forward to seeing you when we get back together again next month. See ya. [Fast Paced Music] MON/FARM MONITOR
[RAY/] THANK YOU NICK. AND THANK YOU FOR WATCHING THIS VERY SPECIAL
EDITION OF THE FARM MONITOR [KENNY]
TAKE CARE EVERYBODY, WE’LL SEE YA RIGHT BACK HERE AGAIN NEXT WEEK. [RAY]
BE SAFE.

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