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County sees loss of livestock, crop damage due to Hurricane Florence

By Erin Smith

Bladen County’s farmers have suffered severe losses of livestock and crop damage as a result of Hurricane Florence. Chris Tatum with the Farm Service Agency office in Bladen County said on Thursday he had no estimated dollar amount yet for the losses as there are still areas of the County which remain inaccessible due to flooding.

Tatum did say the County’s farmers have reported losses of poultry, swine and cattle. Again, Tatum said he had no exact figures yet as areas such as White Oak, Rowan and Kelly remain unaccessible to agriculture agents.

“We did have a high mortality rate (for livestock),” said Tatum. “We have suffered losses in every area of livestock.”

Tatum also said that there are some losses for tobacco remaining in the fields, some corn which was not able to be harvested prior to the storm, and cotton.

“I think cotton is one of the hardest hit crops,” said Tatum.

He said peanuts, which were not ready to be harvested before the storm, will begin to harvested next week. Tatum said once the harvest begins, officials will have a better idea of the losses for the peanut harvest.

Tatum said the grape harvest was also hit but officials don’t yet have an estimate.

Some of the County’s pecan orchards also suffered damage and losses.

FSA expects to have estimates in the coming days of the losses, according to Tatum. He advised farmers to keep good records of any expenses related to the clean up of their farms including sales receipts.

He added, FSA offers several programs ready to assist farmers during this time. Those programs are:

*The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) assists farmers with losses of livestock due to adverse weather or animal attacks from animals reintroduced to the wild by the federal government. Learn about LIP here.

*The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) offers farmers financial assistance for livestock or honey bee losses due to adverse weather conditions and other situations. Learn more about ELAP here.

*The Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides financial assistance to qualifying orchards and nursery tree growers who experience losses due to natural disasters and other circumstances. Learn more about TAP here.

*The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) assists farmers with repairs to their land caused by natural disasters and to repair water conservation methods which were damaged. Learn more about ECP here.

For producers with questions or losses, Tatum asked they contact the Bladen County Farm Service Agency at 910-862-3179.

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