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Extension service sets meeting to help farmers apply for flood aid

Farmers in Henderson County who suffered major crop losses in the flooding and record rainfall of 2018 are eligible for emergency relief as part of a bill passed by the state Legislature, state Sen. Chuck Edwards told the Henderson County Board of Commissioners Monday night.

 "We had two horrendous hurricanes and state appropriated several million dollars almost right away," Edwards said. Most of the news focused on flooding caused by hurricane Florence in Eastern North Carolina. "At the same time farmers brought to my attention that they too had experienced quite a bit of disaster in 2018 but it came in a much different form," he said. Two tropical storms inundated the region and, just as bad, the rain never quit. Record rainfall of more than 110 inches fell in some areas of the county. The total farm disaster for Henderson, Buncombe, Madison, Haywood and Transylvania counties is around $10 million.

Terry Kelley, the agriculture extension director, followed Edwards. He told commissioners that the extension office has scheduled a presentation and Q&A for farmers from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the extension office in Jackson Park. The sign-up period opens Wednesday and runs to Nov. 20.

As for other state spending, Edwards said the Legislature has managed to enact much of the appropriations contained in the overall budget that Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed. Legislators could not break the impasse.

"We very quickly realized there was no room for negotiations with our governor on expansion of Medicaid," Edwards said, describing Cooper's position as "an ultimatum, of Medicaid expansion or else."

The Legislature then passed a series of minibudgets, — for correctional officers, state empooyee raises, teachers raises and other budget priorities "that we thought made good sense and passed those minbudgets, one step at a time," Edwards said. "We believe we've passed 98 percent of the original budget." Still held hostage is $42 million in local school construction for Henderson, Buncombe and Transylvania counties, he said.