IOW requests drought aid

Published 9:23 am Saturday, August 21, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—This summer’s drought likely destroyed 85 percent of the corn and pastureland in Isle of Wight, according to Virginia Cooperative Extension agent Janet Spencer.

The county’s board of supervisors on Thursday voted unanimously to request that Gov. Bob McDonnell declare the county an agricultural disaster area. Spencer said losses for corn and pastureland in the county are estimated to top $3 million.

Last month, Southampton County supervisors made the same request. Officials there say about 70 percent of the corn crop and 60 percent of pastureland is believed lost to drought, with farm income losses topping $3.7 million.

Once a county requests the disaster designation, state officials check to make sure the county qualifies. Once the criteria is met, the governor contacts the U.S. Department of Agriculture to request aid, including low-interest emergency loans for farmers.

Corn and pastureland likely won’t be the only crops affected by the drought conditions, Spencer said.

“We are also anticipating that we could see some losses for soybean, cotton and peanut in our area, but unfortunately we won’t know to what extent the loss for these crops will be until we get into the harvest season,” she said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Phillip Bradshaw said he has talked with farmers who are comparing this year to the drought of 1980.

“To put that in perspective, a lot of farmers are still recovering financially from the 1980 drought,” he said.