Local News

NC farmers won't see federal assistance for Irene until 2012

Posted October 19, 2011

— North Carolina crop farmers likely won't get federal assistance for the $300 million in crop damage caused by Hurricane Irene until next year.

That leaves farmers like Bert Pitt left unsure of what to do until then.

Pitt, who owns of Pitt Farms in Macclesfield in Edgecombe County, lost half of his tobacco crop and 40 percent of his cotton crop when the Category 1 hurricane hit the eastern part of the state in August.

Insurance, he said, is expected to cover 75 percent of his crop loss, but that doesn't factor in lost hours for employees.

"The people that (work in tobacco) depend on the tobacco work for their income to send their kids to school, buy their school clothes and all that," Pitt said. "They were out of a job. They lost 50 percent of their income, too. It's not just me."

He's not alone. Edgecombe farmers sustained $43 million in crop damage.

They can apply for federal assistance through the Farm Service Agency, but unlike damage to homes, they will not see money for their crop damage until some time next year. 

"Right now, they're still in the process of taking applications for 2010," Pitt said.

Most of those claims relate to damage from last year's drought.

"So, that's not the answer to get money in the farmers hands quickly," he added.

State and federal officials are in the process of meeting with farmers to hear their concerns.

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge, who's in charge of North Carolina's efforts to recover from Irene, says he will head to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress for more immediate financial help for farmers.

North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has also been lobbying the General Assembly for emergency funding that could help farmers, spokesman David Smith said, but the legislature doesn't reconvene until November.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • storchheim Oct 20, 2011

    cantstanya, I couldn't have said it better. Remember the local farmer from a couple weeks ago, who had received tens of thousands - though $20k was from Farmers Insurance - for solar panels for his own private use. Almost everyone loved the idea and vilified the dissenters, saying the panels were good for all of us. Today it seems only the farmers are in favor of federal assistance in the wake of Irene. Don't people understand that the money comes from the same source: the taxpayer.

    I have an email request from a small-farms group asking me to object to new regs to track farm animals raised for food, saying it will be too difficult for small farmers to comply with the red tape, but not for Big Ag. I agree, but they're hypocrites for taking grant money and then facing off against govt.

    BTW, I switched from Farmers Ins after that story ran, and saved $300 a year - one third of the previous cost - with the same coverage. Just sayin.

  • Mark Hayes Oct 20, 2011

    Are we now going to put the farmers in that catagory of too big to fail and if so why not the guy down the road who has lost his job,or the woman that used to work at the local store,or as a teacher I mean these people chose this as a career and for the most part do much better than the average hourly worker,for years they have wanted less government regulation now they want more government paricipation,if they are unable to withstand events that are going to present setbacks without government assistance then it should make them consider moving into another line of work,many people during these hard economic times have downsized or sold their homes do to the fact they no longer could afford them,are farmers so much different than the rest of society,I think not,like any other business the good ones will prosper the others will fail,thats just business.

  • storchheim Oct 20, 2011

    BronYrAur: I'm sure we'd all love to stop subsidizing health care for tobacco users. Let's legislate to get that done. Wasn't part of the "quota" deal supposed to be that the tobacco companies would kick in a substantial part of that tab? Or did the legislature steal it for other pork?

    "Crop insurance is not a profitable purchase for the tobacco farmer, it is another cost of doing business. There is no profit from crop insurance, it ranges from losing money to breaking even."

    Insurance isn't SUPPOSED to be profitable. My homeowners and auto insurance aren't. I believe if you purchase insurance INTENDING to profit, that's fraud. Did I miss your point?

  • storchheim Oct 20, 2011

    A coworker who grew up on a tobacco farm informed me that the reason she still took tobacco subsidies, in spite of having a cubicle job, was because "nothing else brought in $4,000 an acre!" God forbid she lower her standard of living like, oh maybe the factory workers whose skills are no longer in demand...

    Cry me a river. What were you doing all those years you were bringing in 3-4k an acre, either through work or through handouts? And why shouldn't farmers have to change with the times too? We've known for 50 years now that tobacco in any form is deadly. Karma's a bear, ain't it?

  • Mark Hayes Oct 20, 2011

    hunter38."Amen to that,seems like adammcmoney should be out working those fields instead of bashing those that question the governments involvement,I live in a farming area and most of them are out working,leaving little time to get on this site,in fact I doubt if any of them even know about this site,their to busy working.

  • rick_slick Oct 20, 2011

    gee, I don't recall the GM bailout or any of the TBTF bank bailouts/machinations taking that long. How convenient.

  • working for deadbeats Oct 20, 2011

    Hi, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you. LOL!!

  • Mark Hayes Oct 20, 2011

    adammcmoney." Just asking if you are able to work your farm with or without migrant workers,and I am not one that sat in a cubicle,spent 45 years in construction and was the victim of whatever the weather brought on,just don't understand how one way of life is more deserving than another when it comes to government assistance,builders all over this country are failing but as of yet none have received any government backing,it's like sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you,we all work hard for a living not just the farmers.

  • hunter38 Oct 20, 2011

    Hey adammcmoney: My post was not negative towards farmers...maybe you read it wrong I don't know...I to was raised on a farm and support each and every one. But since you went off on me like you did...PLEASE by all means give me your address...I would LOVE to meet a coward face to face!!!!!!!

  • adammcmoney Oct 20, 2011

    to @hunter38 and @timinNCisback, shut up. yall are just freakin ignorant. as @BronYrAur said, we wouldnt be able to pay it. im a farmer myself and im waitin on my insurance check. so shut up and sit there in your cubicle and play solitare why us hard workin farmers grow the animals and vegetables you eat. have a nice day.