South Georgia blueberry farmers can now file for federal assistance

South Georgia blueberry farmers can now file for federal assistance

ALMA, Ga. (WTOC) - Blueberry growers who have lost recent crops can now file for federal assistance after they were left off the list for two years.

South Georgia blueberry growers have the 2020 season ahead of them, but they’re still dealing with 2017 and 2018. That’s when they lost much of both crops to freezes. They are thankful help is now on the way, no matter how long it’s taken.

Those late season freezes wiped out almost the entire crop. The timing hurt both the early and the late varieties.

Brandon Wade serves as president of the Georgia Blueberry Growers Association. He says those freezes took away two crops and stunted newly-planted blueberry bushes. In June, he and others met with Congressman Buddy Carter to talk about the damage and the need to include blueberry growers in disaster relief. He says they’ve all either borrowed more or just paid on the interest, and they and the community both need the money.

“Hopefully, some of these farmers that are on the edge...2017 was a tough pill to swallow and ’18 made it nearly impossible. Hopefully, this will keep them in play and keep them in business,” Wade said.

He says they don’t have an exact timetable for the payments, but the sooner the better. He says whatever relief they get is better than what they’ve had so far. It will not only help them pay off debt, but also start back some projects they put on hold for the last two years. He says spending that money in the community will help it spread even further.

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