How the coronavirus could impact Coastal Empire farmers

ByAndrew Gorton|March 23, 2020 at 1:27 PM EDT - Updated March 23 at 2:24 PM

BAXLEY, Ga. (WTOC) - The coronavirus is impacting all of our daily lives, including those responsible for making sure we have food in the agriculture industry.

“Our family is 100 percent agriculture,” said farmer Reid Turner.

Turner has farmed the land of Baxley, Georgia since 1998, working with his father on nearly 2,800 acres of land.The Turner's farm nearly 2,800 acres in Baxley, Georgia. (Source: WTOC)

“On our farm, we grow tobacco, cotton, peanuts, and pecans. My wife, she works with her family. They have a blueberry operation. They harvest and pack their own berries,“ said Turner.

But some of those crops could be at risk of living up to their full potential due to the coronavirus.

The coronavirus could limit the number of vital farm workers that could get in the country (Source: CDC)

“It’s already having an effect on our farm and a lot of farms around us. We use the guest worker program. We bring workers in, seasonal employees in from other countries, especially Mexico, to help fill positions that local people don’t necessarily want to do anymore,” said Reid Turner.

Not having a full staff could hurt farms not just across the Coastal Empire, but across the entire country.

“We are already dealing with the issue this week a lot of the consulates have closed in other countries. The time frame to get the guys here is getting very narrow. If we don’t get employees here on time, crops won’t get planted, crops won’t get harvested. It will have a large impact in this whole area and agriculture in general,” said Reid Turner.

Despite the upcoming challenges, Reid wants the community to know that the Turner family is there for them.

“We don’t look to benefit from a pandemic, a bad situation for everyone else. Of course, we will do what needs to be done to keep the farm going,” said Turner.

Keeping the farm going is important to Reid. He has two kids and hopes they will follow in his footsteps if they choose to do so.

Reid would be happy if his children became fifth-generation farmers, if that's what they want to do! (Source: WTOC)

“My hopes for the farm, of course, stay in business as long as I can. Try to produce more with less inputs, less fertilizer, less chemicals. Make it better for generations ahead of us,” said Turner.

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