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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Burned corn, wilted soybeans, puny peaches.  A drought can wreak havoc on crops, bankrupting farmers and sending produce prices through the roof.

For many years, Alabama has taken a mostly reactive approach to droughts, assisting farmers after the fact. However, effective July 1, the state is trying something new. A new state law allows for the creation of the Alabama Drought Assessment and Planning Team. The team will help develop a statewide drought plan, assess drought conditions and make water restriction recommendations, when necessary.

There is a tremendous financial incentive in responding wisely to droughts.

“In the state of Alabama, agronomy – which is your soybean, cotton, corn – is a billion dollar industry,” said Madison County Extension Coordinator Walter Harris.

“Last year, gross receipts were over $900 million,” Harris added.