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Farmers Desperately Need Disaster Relief

Podcast / Newsline May 16, 2019

Credit: John Carkeet / CC BY 2.0 

Farmers, ranchers and rural communities in several states are looking to Washington, D.C., for disaster assistance. Chad Smith has more.

Smith: The House of Representatives recently passed a disaster aid bill that the American Farm Bureau Federation says will help farmers and communities hit hard by weather catastrophes. The Senate is currently working on putting together its own version of disaster relief. Lorenda Overman, a North Carolina farmer and Farm Bureau member, is still dealing with the financial impact of last year’s hurricanes. She says weather can either be a farmer’s best friend or worst enemy.

Overman: I was not a farmer. I grew up in the city and I didn’t know how important rain was until I married a farmer. I’ve prayed for rain for 37 years, but after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 with 18 inches of rain, and Hurricane Florence in 2018 with 30 inches of rain, you begin to look at rain a little differently.

Smith: Estimated losses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are $5.5 billion. Midwest states like Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa estimate weather-related losses at $3 billion. Overman says her farm was hit incredibly hard by Hurricane Florence in 2018. Her soybeans looked great on September 13, but the story was completely different just two days later.

Overman: They were underwater. Completely underwater, couldn’t see them at all. Out of the 1,400 acres of corn that we had, we were unable to harvest about 375 acres. Hurricane Florence left its mark in a lot of places. The biggest one for us on the farm has been financial loss.

Smith: Overman says the lost income due to storm damage means they need help paying for the cost of a crop that no longer exists.

Overman: We’ve had to go to our lenders and beg and plead for loans that would just pay the 2018 bills. All your money is in the ground. When I say we lost 500 acres of soybeans, that amounted to $240,000 just for the soybeans, 500 acres of unrealized income.

Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.

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