PE Seeks Drought Relief

Published 4:11 pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

PRINCE EDWARD – Recent rains may have fogged the memory, but it was dry last summer in some areas of the county.

And some farmers suffering from the drought may be getting a little help, County Supervisors approved a resolution at their December 13 meeting requesting the Governor designate Prince Edward a drought disaster area.

“On an average, it was not an extremely bad drought situation…We've got some farmers out there that…made better than average yields on corn, tobacco, and soybeans. But, then again, we've got some that had extremely high losses,” Farm Service Agency County Executive Director Jimmy Gantt told The Herald.

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Gantt noted there are pockets in the county that were extremely dry and there was significant damage to corn, tobacco and soybeans.

“There were some other little pockets here and there, but I think Darlington Heights and Abilene sustained the worst losses when you're looking at drought and heat,” Gantt said. “There were times where we got two inches of rain in Farmville and they didn't get as much as a tenth. Sometimes it rained in town here or around town and they got zero.”

That, Gantt offered, happened several different times. And, in that zone, the grass was brown and really dried up.

“It was a pretty extreme situation with some of those folks out there,” Gantt said.

The Governor's office is expected to ask the USDA for a damage assessment report and Gantt noted that they will then sit down and try to determine the loss across the county for different crops. The Secretary of Agriculture then generally approves a disaster designation. Some counties have already been approved for a disaster loss due to drought.

Potential benefits are possible low-interest loans and there's also the potential opportunity under a disaster program, the supplemental revenue assurance program, which can-at some future point-afford help, as well. Under that program, farmers would have to have an overall farm loss, not just a single crop necessarily. It also offers a possible low interest loan, but it can take close to two years before individuals can take full advantage of the program.

“This one, we're looking at a lot more information-the price that the crop sold for, not necessarily yours but a national average market price that was in place for that particular crop year. That's why it takes so long for us to put this program in place. We've gotta wait until the national average market price is set and then we can implement the program,” Gantt explained.

The board, with little discussion, approved the resolution.