Local News

Easley Seeks Disaster Relief for Farmers

Posted August 24, 2007 10:45 a.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2007 3:49 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Mike Easley on Friday asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare 85 North Carolina counties disaster areas because of drought-related crop losses.

Most counties statewide are experiencing losses of at least 30 percent of at least one significant crop, according to USDA loss-assessment reports.

Major losses have been reported on corn, cotton, hay, pasture, peanuts, soybeans and tobacco. Many farmers have already exhausted their winter hay supplies and are now looking for other sources of feed for cattle, Easley said in a statement.

“This drought is devastating our farms, which are a significant part of the North Carolina economy,” he said. “Our farmers need our help, and this disaster assistance may make a difference whether some of them can afford to stay in business.”

A disaster declaration would authorize the Farm Service Agency to make low-interest emergency loans to eligible producers. Farmers in counties bordering any county receiving a disaster declaration also would be eligible for disaster aid.

Easley's request covers the entire state except for 15 counties along the coast and in northeast North Carolina.

The hot, dry weather also prompted state officials to declare a Code Orange ozone alert for the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte areas on Friday. Sensitive groups like children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems were urged to limit outdoor activities because of the bad air quality.