Destroyed cotton field is shown in Leesburg on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. 
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Tax relief extended for Georgia farmers impacted by drought

Georgia farmers and ranchers affected by drought conditions will get a bit of relief from the Internal Revenue Service, said the federal agency on Friday. 

Farmers and ranchers in 20 Georgia counties, and some bordering counties, who sold livestock due to drought, floods or other severe weather in recent years, are eligible for federal assistance. 

The reprieve gives qualified farmers and ranchers an additional year to replace livestock and defer any gains from forced sales of livestock until the end of the tax year after the first drought free year.

Only sales of livestock raised for work, dairy or breeding are eligible, not those used for  slaughter or held for sporting purposes. Poultry is also not eligible.

>>RELATED: Heat wave has Georgians cautious about crops, outdoor activities

Farmers and ranchers in the Georgia counties of Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Charlton, Chatham, Clay, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Early, Effingham, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Pierce, Screven, and Ware are all eligible for federal assistance, as well as some bordering counties.

Almost 22 million people are in drought areas as of Oct. 3 according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

Conditions in Georgia have been particularly bad with excessive dryness across the entire state including new areas of extreme drought in several counties.

Temperatures over the past week have been 9 to 12 degrees above normal, according to the Drought Monitor. It was the warmest and driest September on record for many areas in the Southeast including Georgia.

Farmers across the state were concerned about the hotter than average temperatures as early as May when temperatures began creeping into the mid-90s. 

“The dry conditions made it difficult for later planted crops like peanuts to germinate, and even if they germinated, the crusty dry soil on top made it difficult for plants to push through,” said Pam Knox, an agricultural climatologist for the University of Georgia, in a May interview with the AJC. The hot, dry start to the growing season was already taking a toll on some of Georgia’s biggest crops, she said.

“Because the normal drought-sale replacement period is four years, this extension immediately impacts drought sales that occurred during 2015,” said IRS spokesman Michael Devine. “The replacement periods for some drought sales before 2015 are also affected due to previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these localities.”

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