Alabama calls for drought disaster declaration

Alabama calls for drought disaster declaration

The state's corn crop has been hit hard by severe dry weather. The declaration of a federal emergency would allow farmers to apply for aid.

Corn farmers and others in the agriculture industry covering 93% of Alabama have been affected by a drought that has led the state’s Agriculture Commissioner to call for the declaration of a federal emergency.

Crops are predicted to produce “poor to very poor” harvests in the 2011-2012 season, said Commissioner John McMillan, and corn is particularly hard-hit. Rainfall for the area is nearly 20 inches below normal in Mobile and south Alabama, according to the National Weather Service, and 5.31 inches below normal in Montgomery.

The rain couldn’t have stopped falling at a worse time, because commodity prices are up and farmers had been hoping to make a profit on their crops, said Alabama corn and cotton grower Steve Dunn. When the rain stopped falling in May, he lost his corn crop, and the survival of his cotton crop will depend on the weather to come. “I’ve never seen it dry this early,” he said.

The declaration of a disaster state would allow farmers to seek federal assistance for drought-related losses.