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Pray for rain

In a city growing as quickly as Suffolk and one whose economic focus seems to be turning ever more toward things of a technological bent, it can be easy to lose focus on just how important agriculture remains to the city’s economy.

But the statistics prove just how vital the industry remains. In 2007, receipts from crops grown in Suffolk amounted to more than $42 million, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Livestock raised in the city earned farmers another $9 million. More than 71,000 acres were used agriculturally on 311 farms that year. The numbers put Suffolk in 11th place among Virginia’s agricultural producers.

This year, though, things are looking bleak for the city’s farmers.

Facing one of the driest summers on record and an unprecedented heat wave, farmers in the area have been able to do little since planting their crops besides watch them wither and die under a scorching sun. Corn crop losses are likely to be of a catastrophic nature, and peanuts and soybeans must either get rain soon — and a substantial amount of it — or face a similar fate.

Through the years, a variety of technical, mechanical and horticultural advancements have improved agriculture to the point where the American farmer now supports not just his own family, but families around the world, as well. But one thing — the weather — remains out of his control. As ever, God holds the reins when it comes to precipitation. Man can only pray for divine intervention.

As Suffolk’s crops continue to suffer through the harshest growing season in recent memory, it would be good for citizens of all professions to remember the city’s farmers. Pray for their finances, pray for their families. And most of all, perhaps, pray for rain.