Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.
Summary: Farms in several Western N.C. counties have been severely damaged from flooding from Tropical Storm Fred. Commissioner Troxler recently toured several counties with Speaker Tim Moore and Rep. Jimmy Dixon and other area officials. The department’s Ag Emergency Hotline has been activated to assist farmers. Farmers can call 1-866-645-9403 for assistance.
- Last Thursday and Friday I traveled to Western N.C. to check out damage from the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Fred. This was a very serious storm – people have died and some are still missing, homes have been washed away and many businesses have been impacted – including farms.
- In surveying agricultural damage, we flew over several spots where entire fields were washed over with floodwaters and I saw a significant amount of crop and infrastructure damage.
- Specifically, we saw damage to tomatoes, peppers, vegetables and nursery stock – all of these are major crops in the mountain areas. It is harvest time for tomatoes, peppers and vegetables. Nurseries have years invested in plants to get them to a marketable size.
- Some fields that were flooded will most likely be total losses.
- I was not able to tour everywhere, but we are aware of damage in Haywood, Transylvania, Buncombe, Yancey and McDowell counties.
- In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the flood damage in 2004 from back-to-back hurricanes Frances and Ivan that brought heavy rainfall within 10 days of each other to the region.
- Frances dumped between 8 to 12 inches of rain; Ivan brought another 6 to 10 inches in about the exact same location.
- It never gets any easier seeing the destruction of storms, floods or hurricanes, because you always know that the debris you see scattered around and uprooted represents the payday for the hard work a farmer has put into a crop.
- And in a short period of time, it is gone.
- We have activated our Agricultural Emergency Hotline to assist farmers and we will have people manning the line daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. That toll-free number is 1-866-645-9403.
- Farmers can also find recovery resources on the department’s disaster Web page at www.ncagr.gov/disaster (pronounced www dot ncagr dot gov back slash disaster)
- Some of our Research Stations staff have been helping farmers round up cattle and put up temporary fencing. Our Plant Industry staff will begin working with nurseries this week to help assess damage.
- Speaker Tim Moore and Rep. Jimmy Dixon, along with some members of the Western delegation were able to join me to see the damage. It is important that they are able to see the level of devastation themselves. It’s hard to imagine otherwise.
- In talking with farmers, many expressed hope that some disaster assistance could be offered to help them recover, similar to what we did through Operation Brighter Day in 2005.
- I’ll be working with the legislature on this.
- In the meantime, the N.C. Farm Bureau has activated its N.C. Farm Bureau Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund where people can make donations to help our Western neighbors. People can donate by texting the word “Farm” to 91999.
- Please keep Western North Carolina in your prayers in the weeks and months ahead.