01/12/12 — Farmers can get disaster funding

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Farmers can get disaster funding

By From staff reports
Published in News on January 12, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County farmers who suffered crop losses because of Hurricane Irene are now eligible for federal financial assistance through low-interest Farm Service Assistance loans and Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) disaster assistance program.

The county is among 35 in the state that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack has issued a disaster declaration for in order to help farmers recover from the devastating tornadoes and hurricanes of 2011.

The disaster designation enables farmers in primary and contiguous counties to apply for federal financial assistance through the USDA-Farm Service Agency office for North Carolina. The phone number for the USDA-FSA office is 919-875-4800.

Farmers in designated counties have until Sept. 10 to apply for disaster assistance to cover crop losses.

Irene alone destroyed approximately 60 percent of Wayne County's tobacco crop -- a loss of between $18 million and $20 million. Tobacco, the county's primary cash crop, averages $30 million to $35 million annually.

Cotton damages were estimated at about $1.2 million.

Cooperative Extension Service Director Kevin Johnson has noted that farmers aren't the only ones to feel the lost revenues that trickle down through the local economy.

Agriculture, including livestock, accounts for $350 million a year in farm income in Wayne. When agribusiness is added to the mix, the total shoots up to $763 million, making agriculture the county's leading industry.

Counties under the agricultural disaster declaration include: Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Franklin, Greene, Halifax, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Pitt, Sampson, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington and Wilson.

Agricultural entities in Bladen, Brunswick, Chatham, Durham, Gates, Granville, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Perquimans, Robeson, Sampson, Wake and Wilson counties may be eligible for Farm Service Assistance loans.