I think that most of us can say that we have never seen it this dry. One would expect that all of central and west central Georgia would be designated D3 (Extreme Drought) or D4 (Exceptional Drought). it also seems that several local producers have been told that it is the County Agents job to aid in the drought designation. I just wanted to take a minute to let you know what I am doing to help address the drought situation, and what I have learned about the designation of drought in Georgia.
The Drought Monitor comes out weekly. It is a product of several federal agencies and is based on a combination of precipitation and drought indices plus stream flows, groundwater, and impacts as reported by the Drought Reporter online, weekly weather and crop bulletin, and calls to participants. In Georgia I believe the main participant is Bill Murphey the State Climatologist, although I send in reports when I get them. These maps are used by a variety of agencies plus private crop insurance companies to determine drought for the purposes of making insurance payouts, for example.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division designates drought for the purposes of water supply. Right now they only have a D1 drought category for the northern part of the state. They have nothing to do with agriculture, just water supply, so things can be burning up and they will not change their drought level unless the water supply is affected.
USDA also declares drought for the purposes of making short-term loans to farmers. I am not entirely sure what their criteria are, but I believe they are based heavily on the Drought Monitor.
Here is what we have done on the local level to address this matter:
- Letters explaining the severity of the drought in our counties were sent to all state and federal legislators
- Weekly crop reports have been submitted showing that both subsoil and topsoil moisture are “Very Short”. This is the lowest ranking allowed. My records indicate that this has been submitted for the last 4 weeks. I did not check back further than that
- I have contacted Sanford Bishops office
- Reports pertaining to exact impacts of the drought have been submitted to UGA Climatologist, Pam Knox, The State Climatologist, Bill Murphey, as well as 2 reports submitted to the National Drought Reporter, Brian Fuchs
If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact me at 478-862-5496, 478-825-6466 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The new reports come out tomorrow. Hopefully with what we have submitted we can get some support for our local growers.