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Usual Loan Options May Not Keep Farmers Above Water

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NAHUNTA — North Carolina farmers are no strangers to hurricanes and crop disasters. They are also no strangers to federal assistance in the form of low-interest loans. But after Hurricane Floyd, the usual remedies may not keep farmers above water.

Two days ago, Mike Jones was jet skiing across his 140 acres of cotton in Wayne County. While he is now able to reach the fields by tractor, a closer look offers no comfort.

"This was a beautiful crop of cotton. I think the crop would have picked 1,000 pounds per acre, probably. And now it's zero," says Jones.

Like many farmers suffering through Floyd's floods, Jones is looking for help. But the usual federal aid, he says, is not an option.

"Low-interest loans are not going to do much good. We've got plenty of those. You know, we've got to have some income to pay it back," he says.

Federal crop insurance will not help either.

"The way mine works out, they won't pay me anything," says Jones.

Considering damage to cotton, tobacco and soy beans, Jones figures he has lost $100,000 this year.

"It's tough after a 35 percent cut in tobacco for the last two years and we've had that plus this now. And it makes you wonder if you did pick the right profession," he says.

Jones' wife Lisa says their turkey operation is what is keeping them in business. It is high and dry.

They are also depending on their own determination. "You got to bite the dust and move on, tough it out," she says.

Jones says he would like to see disaster assistance money given to other countries be used to help overcome disasters here at home.

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Dan Wilkinson, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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