Washington leaders come to Waynesboro to hear concerns

By: Jorge Lopez Email
By: Jorge Lopez Email

News 12 at 11 O'clock / Friday, Aug. 8, 2014

WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW) -- An important meeting Friday for farmers in our area with a chance to talk with the second in command at the Department of Agriculture and their congressman.

The visit from Washington D.C. comes a day after Russia announced new sanctions for U.S. growers.

It's an opportunity farmers don't usually get. The chance for Washington to come to them to hear their concerns.

"Is that going to be made to the producers and the operators or is that going to the landowner," one farmer asked.

Congressman John Barrow and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden met with farmers across the district for one reason.

"Talking about the farm bill. Something that I am working on with Secretary Villsack to make sure it gets implemented in a way that makes sense and works for our producers," Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden said.

Questions on how the bill is meant to help and not hurt farmers took most of the time, but Russia is a concern too after blocking $1.2 billion worth of US farm and food shipments.

"No we make steaks," said farmer Ben Boyd.

He said this year his crops have taken a dive and beef sales are making up the slack.

"Cattle prices have really been the only bright spot in the market right now," he told News 12.

Boyd isn't sure how many of his steaks make it to Russia because he sells to a distributor, but his business is already taking a hit.

"I've got a lot of cows around my house that need to be sold pretty quickly. I mean just today alone with the cows I've got on the lot ready to sell we've already lost $3,000," Boyd said.

Deputy Secretary Harden says Russia's embargo will be tougher on Russian's than American producers.

"We are going to continue to work to open markets around the world. Hong Kong opened this summer for U.S. beef," she said.

Congressman Barrow agrees saying the world market is a lot greater than what the Russians can do, but farmers like Boyd say it's all about the beef.

"Anytime we loose any part of any market it's going to hurt me personally. This is what I do for a living. This is difference in me eating steak and me eating hot dogs," he told News 12.

Congressman Barrow and Deputy Secretary Harden both agree it's too early to say how much Russia's sanctions will hurt U.S. farmers. They don't expect a big impact, but if it is they say the possibility of helping producers with subsidies is not off the table.

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