Crop producers can apply for tornado reliefPublished 8:36pm Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Farmers in Beaufort and Hyde counties have been approved as disaster areas by the USDA Farm Service Agency and may be eligible to receive funds from the Emergency Conservation Program — a cost-sharing program that could reimburse up to 75 percent of costs accrued.
The program is available to agriculture producers whose crops or fields were damaged during the April 7 or April 25 tornadoes, said Leigh Anna Hester, county executive director of Beaufort/Hyde FSA. The county agency is asking local farmers who sustained damage to their farmland to apply for the benefits.
The FSA office is asking that those applications give an estimate of the type of equipment and time needed to complete clean up/repairs to the land, and the expected cost of the work. Hester cited the example of a farmer who hired someone to run a dump truck and backhoe to remove tornado debris.
ECP funding is determined at the federal level. However, depending on the amount of the application, a state or county committee can approve the application. According to Hester, farmland damages from the recent tornadoes will likely fall into a lower cost category.
“It depends on the situation, but this (application may not result in a high estimate), because there were only certain targeted areas,” Hester said.
When damage is more extreme — like the widespread destruction of land during hurricanes — the estimates go up.
Typically, producers can receive up to 75 percent of costs, if approved, according to the FSA website.
Though estimates are being requested now, federal ECP splits available funds on a national level, so cost-share payments may be farther down the road, Hester said.
“But we do normally apply for something like this, that way, those who were affected — they’ll know there’s something for them.”
Estimates of the tornado damage in Beaufort County have climbed into the millions, said Emergency Management Coordinator John Pack.
“The tax office ran an estimate based on original assessment numbers. Just on houses, there was $3-3.25 million. Mobile homes alone was almost half a million. That doesn’t cover damages in the right of way. It doesn’t cover Tideland, Washington Utilities. … When you combine all the response factors, we’re going to be about $5 million,” Pack said.
No estimates of damage to farmland have been made available yet. Several area farmers at Douglas Crossroads and in the Pantego area lost structures, timber and even cattle during the EF3 tornado on April 25.
Applications for ECP should be submitted to the local FSA office by July 17. For more information, call the FSA office at 252-946-1076.