Local News

Easley to Seek Federal Aid for Drought-Stricken Farmers

Posted August 22, 2007 11:43 a.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2007 2:52 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Mike Easley said he plans to ask the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture's Office for federal assistance for farmers whose crops and livestock are suffering from the state's drought.

The state Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Farm Service Agency are working on a statewide survey to determine which counties to include in the federal disaster request.

In Wayne County, drought conditions are so bad 50,000 bales of hay are needed. During the drought in 2002, 10,000 bales were needed statewide.

If the request is approved, low-interest emergency disaster loans will be available to farmers who cannot get credit elsewhere.

“Early indications are that more than 90 counties may meet the criteria for federal disaster assistance,” Easley said. “Our farmers need our help, and since we cannot make it rain, we will do everything we can to provide them some financial assistance.”

Local, state and federal officials at a Drought Management Advisory Council meeting Tuesday said the state needs 12 to 18 inches of rainfall to ease drought conditions, but no significant rainfall is expected in the near future.

Officials said many farmers have reported significant losses in corn and soybean crops, along with a lack of hay to feed cattle. State agriculture officials created a Web site to connect farmers with hay for sale with those who need hay to feed their livestock.