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Tarboro area farmer works to recover after Matthew

Posted November 3

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— The Undersecretary of Agriculture visited a sweet potato farm near Tarboro on Thursday that was wiped out during Hurricane Matthew.

The farm, leased by Ken Smith, spans about 4,000 acres in Edgecombe and Nash counties. About 800 acres were under 8 feet of water during the storm last month.

"Anything that the water got on top of and sat for several days is a total loss," Smith said.

Smith lost about 200 acres of sweet potatoes and hundreds more acres of soybeans.

He has crop insurance on the beans and cotton, but not on his sweet potatoes. Smith invested $1,800 for each acre of sweet potato, and he says the rainy day fund in previous farm bills has gone dry.

"Like anything in Washington, if you don't use the funds, they do away with them," Smith said.

Michael Scuse, the undersecretary of agriculture, said the programs have to be funded by congress.

"So, that's something when they go back to work after the election to take a look at and replenish those funds in those programs," Scuse said.

Still, he said, farmers in the flood-raved areas are eligible for low-interest emergency loans, although Smith said he does not plan to seek an emergency loan.

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