Since the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Customer Service (NCDA&CS) announced it’s Hurricane Florence Agricultural Disaster Program on Nov. 5 nine licensed hemp farmers have applied for relief.
It will be weeks before farmers know how much money they will receive, however, and, until the application period ends, the state is unable to calculate payment amounts.
The government support program was established by the N.C. General Assembly (NCGA) in October via a unanimous vote.
The aid comes at a critical time for the state’s fledgling industrial hemp pilot program since hemp farmers are unable to buy crop insurance and some, like Brad Adams, lost everything this hurricane season.
First-time farmer Brad Adams took this photo of his hemp farm after Hurricane Florence ruined his crop in September 2018.
Are you a licensed N.C. hemp farmer who would like to apply for the Hurricane Florence Agricultural Disaster Program?
Adams, who is working as a roofer now that his farm collapsed, says “not much has changed” since we last spoke in October, though he is thankful to the crew at Hempleton* for setting up a crowdfunding campaign and for helping him find a new home for farming equipment he purchased right before the storm made landfall.
[Read: Hurricane Florence destroyed Brad Adams’ hemp farm … he could still use some help, by the way. You can help a farmer out with a donation via Fundly.]
Despite his losses, Adams says he would like to get back to hemp farming if he’s able to recover from this year’s hurricane season.
“Right now, we’re lucky enough that the complete 100 percent crop loss farms are few and far between,” says Justin Hamilton, Chief Executive Officer of Hempleton Investment Group, explaining why his company decided to lend a hand to Adams, “but Brad specifically had sold everything he had and put his whole life path in that crop.”
Per the NCDA&CS press release:
“Hurricane Florence was a catastrophe that hit agriculture at a time when historically high debt, previous disasters and chronic low commodity prices have already created a dim outlook for farmers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Because of this storm, many areas of North Carolina’s Ag economy have run out of gas and we need to get the engine started again in rural NC.
I am concerned that some of our farmers will choose not to return to the fields next year and we are going to do all that we can to encourage them to do so. If funded by the N.C. General Assembly, this program will provide much needed cash flow to maintain agriculture and its multiplier effect for rural economies.”
Initial estimates for crop damage and livestock losses to North Carolina’s agriculture industry are estimated at $1.1 billion and expected to grow. More than half the state’s 100 counties have received a Presidential-disaster declaration.
Of the $856 million earmarked for Hurricane Florence recovery by the NCGA, $50 million is for agricultural recovery.
The program is available to all North Carolina farmers.
Per NCDA&SC spokesperson Phil Wilson, via email, “As of November 11 at 2:00 PM, there have been six complete applications and three incomplete/in progress applications for producers with hemp. In total, for all crops, there are 696 applications. There are 556 complete applications and 140 incomplete/in progress/test applications.”
The application process is relatively straightforward, though applicants should note the application guidelines were updated on Nov. 9. Affected farmers apply, NCDA&CS verifies their loss and payments are calculated based on a prorated share of the funding provided by the N.C. General Assembly. That prorated amount is “in ration to all agriculture production loss,” says Wilson.
Farmers could begin receiving payments as soon as Jan. 1, 2019.
Listen to our podcast with N.C. Industrial Hemp Association executive director Blake Butler.
BY Rhiannon Fionn
Editor & Publisher
Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.
Header image courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Flickr: Air and Marine Operations, Tuscon flight crew departs from TAC Air field in Raleigh, N.C., to execute search and rescue missions as well as damage assessments. September 16, 2018 U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Jaime Rodriguez Sr.
*Full disclosure, Hempleton and its subsidiaries are an annual sponsor of Carolina Cannabis News.