QUITMAN — A Brooks County farmer said Wednesday the controversial Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline has ruined his farmland.
Randy Dowdy is a major corn and soybean producer. In fact, he holds a world’s record for soybean production and a U.S. record for corn production but now he says his award-winning farm is in jeopardy.
Environmentalists held a press conference this week alongside Dowdy to say their worst fears about the pipeline have been realized.
“Sabal Trail gouged its pipeline through his terraces on the land he used for those soybeans in Brooks County. Despite his warnings, they left that damage unfixed until rains in January caused massive erosion, washing his topsoil into a nearby creek. Beyond immediate damage, this destruction affects Dowdy’s ability to grow such record yields, and the basic productivity of his fields,” the WWALS Watershed Coalition said in a prepared statement.
Andrea Grover, a Sabal Trail spokesperson, explained that storms in late January combined with unsettled earth from pipeline excavation, resulting in erosion. “A state of emergency was declared for numerous counties within which the project is located, including Dougherty, Mitchell, Brooks, Colquitt, Lowndes,” she said.
Dowdy said the damage to his farmland is irreparable.
“We’ve got loss of production for the future that will take not my lifetime, not my kids’ lifetime, but my kids’ kids’ lifetime to recover from,” Dowdy said.
Following storms such as the ones in January, Sabal Trail representatives said contractors inspect construction areas, checked for soil erosion and worked to repair any damage.
Dowdy said the Sabal Trail recovery efforts further damaged his property by mixing topsoil and subsoil.
On behalf of the pipeline company, Grover said, “Sabal Trail continues to work with each landowner along the project to ensure the project right-of-way is restored to its previous condition and contours.”
John Quarterman, of the watershed group asked, “What further economic damage has Sabal Trail done to other farmers and landowners? Where else will Sabal Trail’s pipeline cause erosion, perhaps in some places exposing the pipe and risking corrosion and breaks?”