Feds to provide help for IOW, Southampton farmers

Published 9:13 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The federal government has declared Southampton, Isle of Wight counties, and the City of Franklin natural disaster areas due to crop losses caused by the summer’s drought and record-breaking heat.

The designation qualifies farmers for low-interest emergency loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

The news came as no surprise to Janet Spencer, agriculture agent for Isle of Wight County Cooperative Extension.

“It was completely expected that it was going to be declared,” Spencer said. “When we went into the whole process, Isle of Wight County’s corn was suffering an 85 percent loss. We’re also seeing losses with peanuts, cotton and now we’re getting into the soybean harvest.”

She’s not sure what the peanut loss will be, but understands cotton, stands at a 40 to 50 percent loss.

“Some areas may be higher than that, while some areas fared better. It just depends on where the (rain) showers fell,” Spencer said.

She doesn’t have loss numbers for soybeans, but has been hearing that many are small.

“What happened is when they were putting their pods on, because of the drought, they weren’t able to fill out,” Spencer said.

Supervisors from Southampton and Isle of Wight counties in July recommended to Gov. Bob McDonnell that their municipalities be declared disaster areas. Combined losses at the time for corn, pasture and hay harvest totaled $7.2 million.

Farmers have eight months to apply for loans to help cover part of their losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.