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      Farmers growing gardens on dry soil

      Thursday may have been a rainy day, but 23 counties across Georgia have been designated as natural disaster areas due to the recent drought.Thomas Vilsack, Georgia's Secretary of Agriculture, has deemed Baker, Tift, Mitchell, and Worth Counties in southwest Georgia as drought natural disaster areas.Since the land is so dry, farmers are finding alternative ways to keep their crops alive."The drought here in southwest Georgia, it doesn't catch them by surprise. They have seen it. They know the drought is going to come, so there are drought resistant varieties that are being planted," said Samuel Lee, an organic farmer in Worth County.Samuel Lee says many cotton and peanut farmers also use pivots to keep their gardens green.He says he was also affected by the drought at one point in time.While many farmers say a few inches of rains won't help by much, for Lee's five acres, it's just enough.Recently he sowed seeds for the spring and now he's noticing the plants are peeking past the grass, but for those who may not have such a prosperous return, the United States Department of Agriculture Famers Service Agency is offering a solution."When the county is declared a natural disaster, it's really a secretarial disaster declaration. So what that does is open it up for an emergency loan," said David Laster, Acting State Director for the FSA. Laster says farmers can use the money for production expenses and to make up for their loss. He says they must contact the FSA to find out if they qualify for the loan.

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