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Some Tobacco Farmers Finally Reimbursed For Crops Lost to Weather

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WILSON — Millions of dollars are quietly being sent from Washington to tobacco growers in the Southeast. So quietly that many farmers are surprised to hear it is available.

Farmers say it is the first good news they have heard in years.

All farmers gamble when they plant their crops. Hurricanes, hail or any severe weather can devastate a season.

Until now, tobacco growers had more to lose. Because of the federal price support program, tobacco growers were not reimbursed for weather-related disasters.

"Farmers are folks who like to pay their bills. When you have the best crop that you can have, then a storm comes along and wipes it out. There's nothing else you can do," said farmer Robert Vick of Wilson County.

Starting Monday, some tobacco farmers can be reimbursed for crops lost to the weather between 1994 and 1998. But not every farmer will qualify.

Vick has lost tens of thousands of tobacco dollars to weather. He says this potential federal aid is a glimmer of hope for all growers during a turbulent time.

"It seems like sometimes all the help goes the other way. Either it's going out West or it's going across the ocean. We need to look out for some tobacco farmers here in North Carolina," said Vick.

The aid almost went out West to stay. California and Texas wanted financial relief from last summer's droughts.

After leaders from eastern states cried foul, theUSDAput together a new plan that includes North Carolina.

It will not pay all the bills, but farmers are glad to get any help as the new season and new worries get closer.

Monday was the first day to apply for the disaster aid.

The federal farm office in your county can tell you who qualifies.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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