Agriculture losses caused by Hurricane Florence and flooding in the aftermath are estimated at more than $1.1 billion.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services released the news Wednesday.
“We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agriculture counties especially hard,” said Steve Troxler. He’s the state agriculture commissioner. “These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry.”
Gov. Roy Cooper was in Bladen County touring the devastation on Wednesday.
“A lot of farmers were teetering on the edge,” Cooper said, mentioning Hurricane Matthew from October 2016 while in Bladenboro. “They’re mortgaged to the hilt. We need to help them.
“We need more than just a farm bill. Crop insurance is not going to be enough.”
The Agriculture Department listed Bladen County among 35 that it called the most highly impacted. The others were Anson, Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Chatham, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Montgomery, Moore, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Union, Wake, Wayne and Wilson.
Row crop losses were estimated at $986.6 million. The other estimated losses were forestry, $69.6 million; green, $30 million; vegetable and horticulture crop losses, $26.8 million; and livestock, poultry and aquaculture, $23.1 million. Livestock losses were estimated at 4.1 million in poultry and 5,500 hogs.
The estimates, a news release said, were based on the percentage of crops still in the field in the 35 most highly impacted counties. The calculations also looked at a five-year average for crop production and the prices of commodities.
Assessment information was made by the department’s regional agronomists, N.C. State University agents and specialists, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and commodity associations.
This chicken farm in Bladen County was among many to go under water because of Hurricane Florence. Agriculture losses in the state are estimated at $1.1 billion.
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @alanwooten19.