Washington County declared natural disaster area

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ROPER, N.C. (WNCT) – “It’s been tough the last 3 years,” said Michael Harris with Harris Farms in Roper.

Harris is one of many farmers in the East who just can’t catch a break.

“The natural disaster has been ever since Hurricane Matthew,” added Anna-Beth Williams, Washington County Agriculture Extension agent.

“You just have to do a whole lot of extra expense cleaning up all of your ditches and everything on top of losing your crop,” explained Harris.

“A farmer has one shot at making a crop and when a weather event happens, it destroys that. It’s a long slow recovery,” said Darren Armstrong with Armstrong Farms in Hyde County.

But these farmers are finally getting some much needed help. The USDA has designated Washington County along with Beaufort, Bertie, Chowan, Hyde, Martin, Perquimans and Tyrrell Counties a natural disaster area.

“With the natural disaster designation, it helps farmers,” explained Williams. “They do get some low interest loans. It helps them make it through to the next year.”

Emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency are available to farmers with significant winter wheat production losses over the past year.

Unfortunately, the problems didn’t just stop with Hurricane Matthew. Heavy rains in the spring of 2017 caused more problems for farmers.

“This year we got a whole lot of water and it drowned our crop out so we have to come back in and replant,” said Harris. “Where we had to come back and replant, the cotton is brown because it didn’t have enough sunlight. You’re not making any money because you can’t pick it, you’ve got another $150-$200 an acre involved in replant. It’s been a challenge for the last 3 years. We were hoping this year would be three years, the third one is the charm, but it hasn’t worked quite that way.”

For more information on the natural disaster declaration, click here.

To find your county Farm Service Agency office, click here.

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