DUBLIN — Gov. Pat McCrory and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler saw and heard first hand Tuesday afternoon just what the rains of the past two weeks have done to crops in Bladen County.
The two state leaders spent the better part of an hour at Lu Mil Vineyard and, before of a crowd that swelled to about 200 — including numerous farmers, elected officials and other dignitaries from throughout the region — spoke about the recent threats from Hurricane Joaquin and the devastation created by 12 straight days of rain.
“It’s the first time I’ve rooted for the Europeans,” McCrory said. “But thank God for the European Model, the only one that was correct, showing the hurricane moving away from the coast.”
The governor added that, had the American models been correct, things would have been far worse in North Carolina than they are.
“We would have been in the very same situation that South Carolina is in now,” he said. “It would have been devastating, especially around our waterways. And let’s not forget that our prayers, and assistance, need to be sent to South Carolina.”
Troxler told the crowd that he and the governor have toured much of the state recently by air, and they’ve seen numerous drowned crops and standing water where crops should be.
“This will be an agricultural disaster for us in North Carolina, he said. “Crops from the mountains to the coast — from apples to cotton, to soybeans to peanuts to sweet potatoes and tobacco, they’ve all been affected.”
One area that McCrory and Troxler said they have not heard any reports of problems from was the livestock operations across the state.
“Thank goodness the recent rain event hasn’t produced any problems there,” McCrory said. “Especially with the hog farms, which is an area that has been a hot-button issue.”
The governor then wanted to hear from some of those in the audience who may be experiencing problems from the rain.
The first to speak was Dan Ward, who has several crops at his Clarkton farm, who said he is primarily concerned with his peanut crop.
“We’re seeing a lot of problems, with about three-fourths of the peanuts falling off the plants — and some are still in the ground,” Ward said. “We’ve also already lost about two weeks of the harvesting season and have just three hard weeks left to do the job.”
Troxler and McCrory were scheduled to visit Ward’s farm after the get-together at Lu Mil.
A question was raised about the federal disaster program, which Troxler addressed.
“Our federal disaster request will look a little strange, because the disaster started with a drought and finished off with floods,” he said.
He added that there are three things disastrous for agriculture: a cool, wet spring; a hot, dry summer; and a rainy fall.
“We had each one of those this year,” Troxler said. “So it was a perfect storm for our crops.”
Some of the other issues brought before Troxler and McCrory by the public included a beaver problem, the cleaning out of roadway ditches in the county and the fact that the Robeson County Agricultural Fair could not open during its early days because of flooded grounds.
“All of this is good information, and we will find a way to look into this,” McCrory said.
“Especially the problem with the county fair,” Troxler added. “We have 44 county fairs in the state and they are all very important for educating the non-farming public.”
Troxler and McCrory held a similar get-together in Brunswick County on Tuesday morning.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.