Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long urges understanding from lenders, government agencies and others as farmers continue to deal with the devastation of Hurricane Michael.
“We have to have understanding from our lending institutions because there will be many, many, many, many, many farmers that will not be able to meet their debts. One of the things we are working on is trying to get the Georgia Bankers Association to work with us and understand that the farmers they work with will need a long-term payment plan,” Long said.
Long also said Farm Bureau is working with Congress to extend disaster assistance that was made last year after hurricanes in Florida and Texas. Long noted that he and other farm leaders did meet with President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who pledged their support.
Long said Hurricane Michael is a total disaster for Georgia agriculture.
Long is a diversified farmer from Decatur County, Georgia. He raises cattle and grows peanuts, vegetables, corn, cotton, hay, small grains and timber with his family on their farm near Bainbridge
“This is my 44th crop that I’ve farmed, and I’ve never seen the likes of it. We had Hurricane Kate in the 80s, and it was bad, but nothing as compared to this,” Long said.
Still, Long said Farm Bureau will be there for it members and insurance customers.
“This is a trying time for farmers. They are at the lowest point of their life right now. We have to have an understanding that some things are covered, and some things are not. Sometimes it’s hard for we as farmers to understand that. At Farm Bureau, we have the federation that represents agriculture and we have the insurance company. And we are going to take a tremendous hit, but that’s what we are there for. I know we will not please everyone,” Long said.
“I’ve charged our staff and management to be as understanding as possible and try to work with the farmers and our membership just as good as they can. But it will be a challenge for all persons involved,” he added.
Long said it is a challenge because farmers are already under great stress because of low commodity prices and Hurricane Michael has multiplied that stress many times. “I just hope farmers will try to take a step back and realize that tomorrow morning the sun is going to come out and somehow we will manage. Don’t let it get the best of you,” he said.
Long, a longtime Farm Bureau leader, became president of the Georgia Farm Bureau in January 2016 when his predecessor, Zippy Duvall, was elected president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.