Henderson County Farmers and WNC would now receive Disaster Relief Funds
RALEIGH, N.C. – Senator Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), recently announced that the 2019-2021 state budget would provide some much-needed relief to Henderson County farmers. Five other counties, Buncombe, Transylvania, Haywood, Polk, and Rutherford, could also receive desperately needed financial assistance after experiencing significant crop losses in 2018 that resulted from severe flooding.
Earlier this year Sen. Edwards authored Senate Bill 268- Ag Disaster Fund/Excessive Rain & Flooding, which was written to include Western North Carolina counties in the state’s disaster relief efforts initiated after Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. Rep. Chuck McGrady then inserted the language that Sen. Edwards wrote into the House budget, while Sen. Edwards’s continued his research and negotiations with other state officials regarding providing mountain assistance. Both chambers have now passed this provision. To become law, it must now be signed by the governor.
$754 million in assistance has been allocated by the state, and $1.2 billion by the federal government after the eastern part of the state was devastated by a one-two punch from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, then Hurricane Florence in September of 2018.
Western N.C. was struck by Tropical Storm Alberto in May 2018, then experienced unprecedented levels of rainfall throughout the remainder of the year. Many farmers lost their crops, replanted them, then lost them again. Henderson County farmers suffered significant crop losses. Some of the hardest hit were strawberries 90%, con for grain 89%, soybeans 86%, blackberries 81%, sod 75%, beans, and peppers 80%. The loss of apples, one of the largest crops, was 40%.
“Natural disasters come in many forms,” said Senator Edwards. “While helping those in the east whose lives were so tragically disrupted by hurricanes was the right thing for us to do, I couldn’t sit idly by and allow our farmer’s needs in the west go unnoticed. I appreciate my partnership with Rep. McGrady who was a tremendous help to ensure that we didn’t miss any parliamentary deadlines, and for ensuring that the members of the House bought into the idea of relief for the mountains” Edwards went on to say.
Kenny Barnwell, a well know Henderson County farmer, said, “Henderson County is very fortunate that Chuck Edwards is so willing to listen to us, and that he can so naturally apply his business acumen to public service. Chuck McGrady adds much legislative experience to the equation. They make a great team for the west.”
In February this year, Henderson County received a secretarial disaster declaration from the United States Department of Agriculture for excessive rain and flooding that occurred from May through December of 2018. The five other western North Carolina Counties are included in this designation because they are contiguous to Henderson County.