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Heavy Rainfall Leaves Some NC Farmers Drowning in Loss

Photo: Vollmer on his farm in Bunn. Courtesy: Vollmer Farms

Photo: Vollmer on his farm in Bunn. Courtesy: Vollmer Farms


August 6, 2013

BUNN, N.C. - With thundershowers forecast for much of the state this week, North Carolina farmers are holding their breaths once again. They are waterlogged from a rainy spring and summer, and already down many thousands of dollars in income. Parts of the state have seen double the average amount of rainfall, and some lawmakers are asking the Governor to declare the season an agricultural disaster.

According to John Vollmer, who grew up on his farm in Bunn, the multiple heavy downpours this season are tough to recover from.

"About the time we would get the plants straightened out from the previous event, we'd have another one," he recalled. "It beat us down."

Vollmer grows fruits and vegetables and said the strawberries which are normally his biggest money maker took the biggest hit. He's down $40,000 this year. Many fruits and vegetables do not have federally-sponsored crop insurance as wheat and tobacco do.

Scott Marlow, the executive director for the Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (RAFI USA), an agricultural advocacy organization, said people might not recognize a season of intense rain as a natural disaster, like they do a tornado or hail storm.

"Folks who aren't watching their vegetables rot, are just walking around going 'Man, it's a drag, it's raining again,' but for a significant number of the farmers in this state, this is a real crisis," he declared.

John Vollmer and other farmers would like the federal government to establish crop insurance for more fruits and vegetables. If successful in bringing that about, a part of their premiums would be subsidized with federal money, as with other large crops. He said having insurance would help him grow the family business.

"One of the things that keeps me from expanding or wanting to expand, is the lack of being able to cover the risk."

Vollmer said that because of this year's loss, he's downsizing his farm next year to further reduce his risk.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - NC