Local News

Easley Requests Federal Disaster Aid for Farmers

Posted August 22, 2007

Drought conditions are so severe, Gov. Mike Easley recently asked for federal disaster aid for farmers.

As of Wednesday, it appeared 90 percent of the state's counties met the criteria for federal help. State farm reports indicated significant losses of corn, soybeans and hay.

North Carolina cattle farmers said the drought could be enough to put some of them out of business. This year's hay crop was devastated. Farmers could quickly run out of feed for their herds.

After 50 years of farming cattle, Chester Smith said he has had some trying times. There are more than 100 head of cattle on his Wayne County farm and as many hungry mouths to feed.

“Been mighty bad this year,” he said.

The drought has devastated hay crops across the state. Farmers were running low on supplies that would have carried them through the winter in better years.

Officials at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said 71 of 100 counties reported significant need of hay.

“We are just seeing stuff burn in the field basically now,” said Brian Long, with NCDA. “We have an estimated need of as much as 800,000 bales of hay.”

That is 80 times worse than in the drought of 2002.

To cut back on animals they will have to feed, Smith might have to take his cows to market earlier and get a lower price. He could feed his cattle grain, but that is three times the cost of hay. He projects losses at 30 percent.

“It is a hard deal, I tell you. Some of the boys are going to have to sell out and quit,” he said.

State agricultural leaders said they hope devastated cattle farmers can be helped by devastated crop farmers – bailing dried stalks in their fields to be used as feed for cattle.

“Those who have something to offer, hook them up with those that have a need,” Long said.

Smith said he worries the crop feed will not have enough protein to raise a good herd. State workers said they are working on that problem, and Smith hopes they are right.

The need for hay in Wayne County alone was at 12,000 tons recently. That is four times the amount of hay needed in the whole state during the 2002 drought.

A federal disaster declaration would give farmers the opportunity to apply for low-interest emergency relief loans.


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  • shine Aug 23, 2007

    Doodad...... You are right the US grows less than 3% of the worlds tobacco and not even considered a "trader" in the world market. China grows the majority - may be 50% now, as well as peanuts. There are other countries that are large in production.

    We are shooting ourselves in the foot.

  • doodad Aug 23, 2007

    Obscurite, somewhere I read that BT was importing a lot of tobacco from China and other countries. I also read that most of the manufactured tobacco products were exported. I don't smoke and never will.

  • Obscurite Aug 23, 2007

    And doodad, I don't particulary take issue with tobacco farming, just had to respond to whatelseisnew's rediculous comparison with the safety of automobiles. I agree with you that one day tobacco farming will go away as an archiac sector of the agricultural industry, I don't neccessarily agree that it will be a bad thing. I believe there are other crops that, while less lucrative, are certainly also less medically objectionable. Maybe if they legalize marijuana, then tobacco growers will have a new crop (insert impish grin here).

  • Obscurite Aug 23, 2007

    I agree with you 100% about the natural state of tobacco. But seriously, does anyone grow tobacco, dry it, shred it and smoke it in the pure form? The only way the product comes to any profitable market is through Big Tobacco, the only way BT will continue to sell their product is the way it always has been (chemically treated to keep the smoker smoking)...as for pot, here's an example from the Pharma industry...a drug is approved and it is only after mass usage does a particular safety issue arise. If pot use was at the level of usage of tobacco, would it be possible to see an increased rise in safety specific events? An interesting idea...I wonder how many volunteers would would get for that study...


    Again, also I am not suggesting discontinuance of farming. I am suggesting that if the market was not there then the farmer would grow a productive (not distructive) crop. I am all for the American Farmer and I think we should do everything we can to be self sufficient.

  • doodad Aug 23, 2007

    Obscurite, I'm sorry about your dad.

    The FDA is trying to regulate the tobacco companines. Why?

    Tobacco is a natural plant as is marajuana. How many people have died from lung cancer caused by smoking pot? Cigarette manufacturers are adding chemicals and increasing nicotine to make smoking more addictive. Tobacco farming will disappear one day just like the textile manufacturing jobs, and people vested in farming will still have to earn a living. I don't think anyone would agree that heavily farmed cash productive rural counties would better benefit NC if they someday became poor counties like Halifax, Scotland, Warren, etc.

  • doodad Aug 23, 2007

    For all the Einsteins here that no nothing about farming, check the annual rainfall rates in the cornbelt VS NC. Farmers account for less than 2% of the population. 2% of the US population feeds the US population and people all over the world. Also, check out billions of US dollars generated for exports of farm commodities and the actual farmer only gets a pinch.

  • Obscurite Aug 23, 2007

    "People like you jump on the liars bandwagon about how it kills people and drives up health care. "

    lol...whatelseisnew...what era have you timewarped to that you don't believe cigarette smoking is bad for your health? I am not advocating no assistance for tobacco growers but you can't be that patently ignorant to confuse the neccessity of automobiles with an addictively engineered substance proven to cause a myriad of health problems both for the user and those around him. Sure, the govenment makes a mint off taxes, but how does that benefit you and I? People grow it because it sells. Take away the profit margin on it and maybe they would grow something that benefits our society instead of leeching it. I laugh (and cry) every time I see a teen light up to "be cool" and remember burying my dad last year because of Lung CA. People who tell you there is no downside to tobacco are the real liars. It's inconcievable that ANYONE but a tobacco farmer or PM empl. would support tobacco.

  • Cleanup on Aisle Cool Aug 23, 2007

    I would support grants for pond/pump irrigation systems.
    Low interest loans for anything else. To plant corn in this state is stupid without having the water on hand it needs.

    Droughts are the new norm. Deal with it - don't ignore it.

  • BlueHeaven27599 Aug 23, 2007

    There are too many farmers in our country. The supply of food is way more than the demand. But the government keeps helping them out because we have a romantisized vision of the American farmer. The law of supply and demand doesn't work with farmers because the government bails them out. A few more going out of business would not be a baqd thing. Just keepin it real.

  • CestLaVie Aug 23, 2007

    I think the farmers could use some help just now, but like whatelseisnew I think the help should be in the form of grants instead of something they have to pay back if and when they have better growing seasons down the road. And I agree that these loans-if-not-grants should be for food products only. I don't want to see more tobacco subsidies, no matter your reasoning on how great you think tobacco is.