11/11/08 — Dept. of Ag. declares 59 counties state of emergency

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Dept. of Ag. declares 59 counties state of emergency

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 11, 2008 1:46 PM

Wayne County is among 59 counties to receive disaster-area designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of crop losses caused by this year's extreme heat and drought.

Gov. Mike Easley made the announcement on Monday.

Duplin, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt, Sampson and Wilson counties also received the designation.

Another 37 counties, contiguous to the 59 primary counties were included in the disaster declaration. Johnston County is among that group.

Easley used his announcement to encourage residents to continue water-conservation efforts, especially in the western part of the state, which has not experienced the recovery from the drought that has been seen in other parts of the state.

Wayne, Wilson and Lenoir counties are now listed as being abnormally dry. That category indicates that drought is not present but could return without adequate rainfall.

Pitt and Greene counties are in a moderate drought while Duplin and Sampson counties are not listed in any category.

The designation means that farm operators in both the primary and contiguous counties are eligible to be considered for assistance from the U.S. Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

The assistance includes low-interest emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

Easley had sought the disaster declaration because of the excessive agricultural losses for at least one major crop and significant losses on corn, soybeans, hay and pasture or other forage crops.

For more information, farmers should contact the Farm Service Agency office in their county. For county Farm Service Agency contact information, people may visit the Web site www.fsa.usda.gov and click on "State Offices."

According to the state Division of Water Resources, more than 3.14 million people, or about 73 percent of the people who receive water from systems the state tracks, must adhere to voluntary or mandatory water use restrictions.

For more information on the drought or water conservation, go to www.SaveWaterNC.org.