Farmers are the backbone of the U.S. economy, if not the entire nation. Without food, we cease to exist.

If a factory making fi ctitious widgets were to stop production, we would have fewer widgets. We cannot live without farmers, nor can we live without the food they grow. No matter the type of food — natural, artifi cial, synthetic or a mix — it all comes from or starts on a farm.

When we understand the importance of farming in our lives, it is so troubling when those who grow our food are left fl oundering after the fl oods and devastation of hurricanes, especially Matthew and Florence, which together caused billions and billions of dollars in damage in North Carolina.

When state and federal offi cials come to the area to “further assess” or “get a fi rsthand view” of the damage, and string along platitudes about fi xing the problem or funding repairs, it is diffi cult to watch. We are sure Gov. Roy Cooper has the best intentions about helping out the state’s farmers. We are equally confi dent that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s appearance in Mount Olive, set for Monday, will offer a platform of assistance to our weather-weary farmers.

Unfortunately, we are not confi dent that any real solutions will come from Perdue’s visit, any more than any other visit by an elected offi cial.

When Gov. Cooper visited Wayne County on Tuesday, he got a chance to meet Lorenda Overman and her family as he toured Overman Farms. The farm received $20,000 through the fi rst funding round of the state’s $240 million Agricultural Disaster Relief Program of 2018. Overman says she is thankful for the money, but the farm suffered $430,000 in damage from Hurricane Florence alone.

Overman says that she and so many other growers are not looking to farm on government subsidies. “I would like for him,” Overman said of Cooper on Tuesday, “to take back the message that we are not looking for charity. We are just looking for assistance to make it through this time.”

As she laid out during the governor’s visit: When farmers sell their crops for less than it cost to raise them, it becomes pretty impossible to make ends meet.

Area farms need help, and it’s time for Raleigh and Washington to do what we require from government: help people when they need help and can’t provide for themselves. Farmers are not looking for a handout or a government panacea for their economic woes. What they do want, what they need and what we should demand is some government help recovering from Matthew and Florence. It has taken far too long to get farmers the assistance they need. It is a wrong that must be righted without further delay.