Local News

N.C. Farmers Take Gamble, Opt Not To Get Drought Insurance

Posted August 21, 2002

— Many farmers have insurance on their crops, but some are taking a gamble and hoping for a federal bailout.

Garry Baker, a crop insurance adjuster, said he continues to see wilted and brown leaves, stalks with no corn and plants that are barely alive as a result of the statewide drought.

"I've been very busy so far. The drought has had us running here and yonder all over the state," he said. "I anticipate this being the worst year I've worked so far."

Due to low commodity prices, some farmers in the state have opted not to buy insurance. Instead, they are hoping for relief from the government.

"Well, we've had a history of it. The track record of it is in periods when we have had disasters whether it be through floods or droughts or hurricanes or whatever you have, the federal government has stepped in with special disaster appropriations," said Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau.

The federal government could provide direct cash assistance to farmers for this drought, but officials believe it is a risky bet. Exact crop losses will not be known for months. Estimates have grown to well over $200 million.

Much of North Carolina has been declared an agricultural disaster area, which opens the door for low-interest loans. Farm lobbyists are now pushing for relief in the form of grant money.

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