BLADEN COUNTY – Gov. Pat McCrory and Agriculture Secretary Steve Troxler were slopping in the mud with farmers Tuesday as they try to assess the damage from nearly two weeks of hard rain and Hurricane Joaquin.
While North Carolina managed to avoid the heaviest flooding that hit South Carolina, the southeastern part of the state received nearly 18 inches of rain. The state’s farmers say the damage to crops is going to be measured in millions of dollars. The waters have delayed harvesting or washed away much of the yield.
“This will be an agricultural disaster for us,” Troxler told a crowd of 200 farmers in Bladen County on Tuesday afternoon. “Crops from the mountains to the coast, from apples to cotton to soybeans to peanuts to sweet potatoes to tobacco – they’ve all been affected.”
Cotton for December delivery rose 0.7 percent to 62.28 cents per pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange when word got out that crops from the Carolinas took a hit in the storms. Half of South Carolina’s cotton crop was affected, according to the Carolina Cotton Growers Association in Garner, N.C. The N.C. Department of Agriculture has set up a hotline for farmers looking for help with assessing their damage. Officials are asking farmers to call 1-800-645-9403.
“Our emergency operations team and county, local and city officials throughout the state have worked together as a team to help wherever it was needed, from Asheville to the Outer Banks,” McCrory said. “I’m very proud of the team in the southeast area of the state that was hit the hardest. Great improvements have been made just in the past 48 hours.”
Farmers told McCrory that they may have lost 75 percent of their crop yield in the storms. The N.C. Department of Agriculture estimates damage to peanuts alone to be near $10 million. In Bladen County farmers met with Troxler and McCrory to share their stories and get information on recovery. Most said it could be several weeks before total losses are known.
The forecast is promising for North Carolina for the remainder of the week. Three to four days of sunshine predictions will help farmers dry out and get into the fields to take stock.