For almost 20 years, anyone could use the system for free. The network website averages more than a half a million hits by over 60,000 separate visitors per month. Almost 300,000 of the hits come from within Georgia.

“Closing the system would cause serious problems for so many in the state,” Angle said. “We are doing all we can to avoid that. But, it is obvious we will no longer be able to afford to offer this service for free.”

Angle said the college is looking at several models for making the system a sustainable service at a reasonable cost to users who need the information. In a recent discussion with Georgia commodity groups, farmers from across the state pledged support for a subscriber-based system.

“That was good to hear,” Angle said. “As growers already face high input costs this year from the rising prices of fuel and fertilizer, you hate to ask them to dig deeper into their profits to fund a service you have been providing for free. I was glad to hear they value this tool enough to want to chip in to help us keep it alive.”

Subscriptions will certainly help, Angle said, but to make the system sustainable long-term will require major contributions from organizations whose members rely on the system and have a vested interest in keeping it viable.

For regular updates about the status of the AEMN, or to learn more about it, go to the system’s website at http://www.georgiaweather.net.