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County included in N.C. disaster declaration

Rainfall killed an apple tree at the Dana farm of grower David Marshall. Rainfall killed an apple tree at the Dana farm of grower David Marshall.

Although Henderson County is one of 13 North Carolina counties included in a disaster declaration because of rain damage to crops, any aid beyond low-interest loans is uncertain, the county's farm-business advocate said.

"Although relief benefits are currently very, very limited, and essentially the only assistance is the potential of low interest loans, this does raise an awareness of the challenges our farm operations are facing," Mark Williams, executive director of Agribusiness Henderson County, said of the disaster declaration, which Gov. Pat McCrory requested more than three weeks after the governors of South Carolina of Tennessee asked for federal disaster.
"By South Carolina, Tennessee and now North Carolina being declared a disaster area, it also shows that these recent adversities had a broad, regional impact," Williams said in a news release. "This could potentially help to get reconsideration of previous and more helpful programs and at the very least encourage action on a new Farm Bill, which remains in limbo."


State and federal agriculture officials say the county suffered $42 million in crop losses from the record rainfall of from May through early August and may have more damage to apple trees with root and trunk damage that won't be seen until next spring and summer.
Williams thanked the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, which adopted a resolution on Sept. 3 urging the disaster aid, and U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows for their support.
"Separately, Senator Tom Apodaca and Rep. Chuck McGrady were extremely supportive (of an immigration bill that helped ensure harvest labor) and that too is much appreciated," Williams said.
"My heart continues to go out to the farmers who have suffered extensive damage and major economic impact," Williams said. "We can only hope and pray that these most recent challenges can somehow be overcome."