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Farm tours set to assess drough damage in eastern pandhandle

July 02, 1999|By ERIN HEATH

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Drought Advisory Committee will tour farms in the Martinsburg area Tuesday to assess damage caused by the recent drought.

Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass organized the tour after Gov. Cecil Underwood declared an Agricultural State of Emergency on June 28.

The drought came as a result of months of dry weather, said Bill Bissett, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

"We've had numerous complaints throughout the state about farmers having to truck water out to their farms to feed their livestock," he said.

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Bissett said the committee chose to look at farms in the Eastern Panhandle because it is a big area for agriculture and because farmers have been hit hard there by two dry seasons in a row.

Three of the farms included in the tour will be:

* A 297-acre beef and grassland farm owned by Paul Collis of Bedington.

* A 2,700-acre dairy farm owned by Lyle "Cam" Tabb III of Leetown.

* A 1,052-acre orchard owned by Mike Orr of Nollville.

Officials from the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the federal Farm Service Agency, the West Virginia Soil Conservation Agency and the Eastern Panhandle Soil Conservation District will be present for the tour.

The officials will talk to the farmers, look at their land and find out what they are doing to cope with the dry weather, Bissett said.

"What we want to know right now is how serious this is and what kind of long-term effects this will have. We're just trying to help the farmers survive this bad weather," he said.

The tour will begin at the Agriculture Department Service Center in Martinsburg. Officials will discuss their findings at noon at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg.

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