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Farmers Might Have Chance to Act Against Drought
By March 1, the Department of Natural Resources will predict whether or not Georgia faces another year of severe drought. If a severe drought is predicted, the Flint River Drought Protection Act will be initiated for the 2001 growing season.

The major objective of this act is to maintain adequate water flows in the Flint River basin during times of drought. This can partially be achieved by reducing the number of acres farmers within the basin irrigate during drought years.

Farmers eligible to participate in the act will be reimbursed for not using irrigation on part of their land for the entire calendar year.

Let the Bidding Begin

Using an auction process, farmers will submit bids to DNR. With the bids, farmers will tell DNR how much money per acre it will take for them not to irrigate designated acres on their farm.

The on-line auction will take place March 17. To prevent a long lines on the day of the auction, farmers can preregister March 16. Everyone must be preregistered to participate. To participate in the auction, the irrigation pump must be permitted by DNR, and the irrigation system must have been in operation in previous years.

Flint River Drought Protection Act Irrigation auction sites:

Calhoun County (Edison)

Preregistration: Calhoun County High School guidance office
Auction: Calhoun County High School cafeteria

Crisp County (Cordele)
Crisp County High School, Agricultural Classroom and Lab

Early County (Blakely)
Albany Technical College in Early County

Lee County (Leesburg)
Preregistration: Superintendent's Office
Auction: Lee County Grade School cafeteria

Randolph County (Cuthbert)
Andrew College Library

Sumter County (Americus)
South Georgia Technical College, Lindburgh Room

Terrell County (Dawson)
USDA National Peanut Lab, Conference Room

Webster County (Preston)
Webster County High School cafeteria and computer lab

No Limits on Bids

There are no limits on how much a farmer can bid for irrigated acres. Money used to reimburse farmers will come from a $10 million fund established with state tobacco settlement money, said Kerry Harrison, irrigation engineer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

For further information regarding the Flint River Drought Protection act, call the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at 1-888-373-5947 or (404) 657-5947.

(Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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