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Saturday, November 27, 2010 - 1:00am

Farmers Feel Agriculture Agent Cuts

Updated: 4 years ago.
Unlike the carrot harvest in Hazelhurst, pictured, crops along the coast are grown in smaller quantities among a diverse group of growers. (photo Ga. Dept. of Economic Development)

Georgia farmers say, they're starting to feel the impact of budget cuts for the state's agricultural agents.

Farmers in coastal Glynn County want their agent back.

Glynn County hasn't had an agricultural agent since earlier this year.

The last agent was one of 88 cut by the state.

Part of the problem is that Glynn County would not increase its share of the county agent's pay.

Betty Ann Lewis of Sapelo Farms near Brunswick says, another problem was an incomplete survey that showed Glynn County lacking farms for an agent to serve.

"We don't have row crops," Lewis says, referring to the coast. "We don't have 500 acres of soybeans and peanuts and cotton, but we do have a very diverse agricultural system here."

Lewis says, an updated survey has been submitted and the state has classified Glynn as deserving an agent.

In the meantime, as head of a local farmer's group, she's now become the go-to person for all kinds of questions.

"I'm forever answering the phone from somebody locally who wants me to help them with their roses or something in their garden," Lewis says. "And normally, my answer would be, contact your county agent. We don't have one."

Facing cuts, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service recently re-organized agents to place them where they are most needed.

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