NC ‘State of Emergency’ ahead of Florence helps farmers during harvest

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The State of Emergency declared Friday by Governor Roy Cooper directly benefits hundreds of North Carolina farmers as they hurry to harvest crops before Tropical Storm Florence makes landfall.

Johnston County farmer John Landon said he appreciates the action which lifts some transportation restrictions involving the moving of agricultural items.

RELATED: Click here for full coverage of Hurricane Florence 

 “Agriculture’s our leading economic engine, and it’s nice to know our governor recognizes that and gives us that opportunity to get our crops out and be able to capture the value in those,” Langdon said.

“We need to get it out in a timely fashion and we don’t need the barriers to hinder that with a storm off-shore that’s coming in that could cause billions of dollars or millions of dollars (of damage), and then the insurance collections and unnecessary stuff that don’t have to be gone through with if we can relax these rules and be able to allow the flow of the product from the field to town or wherever it’s got to go.”

The harvest season is underway across the state, and Langdon said the high winds and heavy rains which could come with next week’s storm would be detrimental to many fields.

He and his son, James, spent Saturday harvesting corn.

Bryant Spivey, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s County Extension Director for Johnston County, said the temporary suspension of some transportation regulations will have a great impact.

“Every bushel counts,” Spivey said. “If a farmer can get a little more on a truck, (that helps) as there will be longer lines at the mills and processing plants.”

North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said he asked the governor to make the executive order for the farmers.

“With the potential impact of Tropical Storm Florence next week and the threat of severe economic loss of livestock, poultry and crops, I appreciate Governor Cooper issuing a state of emergency for North Carolina,” Troxler said.

“The order also waives the maximum hours of service allowed for people transporting essential fuels, food, water, medicine, feed for livestock and poultry and those transporting livestock, poultry and crops ready for harvest. These Executive Orders will allow our farmers the opportunity to harvest as much of their crops as possible before the storm hits. The orders also will help ensure that livestock, poultry and feed can be moved as necessary.”

Troxler also urged everyone in North Carolina to take precautions as the storm moves toward the state.

The State of Emergency also allows the Department of Public Safety to start coordinating efforts for storm safety and response.

“We can start pulling in resources like the National Guard, search and rescue task forces, medical teams, mass feeding and sheltering teams, and our fueling contracts,” state EMA director Mike Sprayberry said.

“We are coordinating with all state agencies, our local partners and county EMA offices. All that coordination has been going on the past few days. We have to have the State of Emergency first, and it allows you to begin to spin up relationships and those teams.”

Sprayberry spoke earlier in the day with the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long.

Sprayberry said depending on the storm’s developments over the weekend, he could go to the federal government on Monday and ask for other types of declarations during the week.

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