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How Moffitt, Edwards salvaged relief for '21 apple crop loss

During a breakfast with state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler before the opening of the WNC Mountain State Fair last September, state Rep. Tim Moffitt seized the moment.

“I spoke to him clearly about what our needs would be for the freeze and what happened on those occasions earlier that year,” he said, referring to the multiple April 2021 freeze that wiped out nearly three-quarters of Henderson County’s apple crop.
“He gave me a figure that I needed to work on and I was successful to get that in the budget,” Moffitt said. “Chuck Edwards was very helpful on the Senate side making sure that things stayed where they were. I guess the language regarding the freeze damage ended up on the cutting room floor accidentally and that’s the reason why we have technical corrections, when we pick up on that to fix those things.”
After the apple freeze relief got deleted from the budget that the Legislature adopted in November, Moffitt and Edwards scrambled to resurrect it.
“When you’re dealing with federal monies, they like to silo things, and I think the budget writers felt like applying for relief regarding the freeze damage would have been permissible and when we found out it wasn’t it required a rewrite of that section,” he said.
“The tropical storm (Fred in August) received a lot of attention because it did do a lot of damage not only to our crops but also to the infrastructures that serve a large part of our agricultural community,” he said. “And once we started looking at what type of relief was needed there, I wanted to make sure that we didn’t forget about the freeze in April.”
Apple farmers, legislators and the county’s Agriculture Extension director estimate the apple harvest loss at around $20 million, with around $8 million recovered through crop insurance, leaving claims through the disaster relief bill could reach $12 million.
“I can’t say enough about the commissioner and his folks and how well they worked with us in the House and at the General Assembly as well as (Bearwallow grower) Jeff Nix was instrumental in getting the language right,” Moffitt said. “It was a good process and we got the right outcome. And now I’m just keeping an eye on making sure that we have enough funds in there to take care of our folks, and if not then I’ll be going back to bat for them during the short session.”
Sen. Edwards noted that in the General Assembly “there’s a great deal of emphasis” on agriculture in Eastern North Carolina. “We see it as our responsibility to help continue to remind the folks Raleigh in the state extends beyond I-77,” he said. “This is just another example of that.”

Here’s how to apply

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agricultural Crop Loss Program covers Henderson County and five other Western North Carolina counties that suffered freeze or frost damage to their agricultural commodities from April 2-21, 2021. To be eligible for assistance under the program expansion, a grower must have experienced a verifiable loss of agricultural commodities as a result of the freeze disaster and on a farm in Henderson, Buncombe, Haywood, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties. The deadline to apply is April 15. The application and required forms can be downloaded from the NCDA&CS website at