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Friday, July 17, 2009 - 11:32am

Georgia Tobacco Farmers Could Have Worst Harvest In Nearly Thirty Years

Georgia tobacco farmers are having a bad year.
First Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration new regulatory powers over tobacco and now bad weather and diseases have ruined a large percentage of their crops.

This is expected to be the worst harvest in almost thirty years. Earlier this spring farmers in South Georgia were hit with torrential rains. This washed away planting beds, fertilizers, and young plants.

Farmers eventually planted 15-thousand acres, and then diseases hit. The common tomato spotted wilt virus has killed as much as 30-percent of plants statewide. This year the stem rotting disease, white mold, has also been a problem.

Tobacco farmers will begin harvesting in two weeks, a month later than usual. Tobacco is Georgia's third largest row crop and is worth up to 60-million dollars a year. However, since 2004 the number of tobacco farmers in Georgia has gone down by 80-percent.