Business & Economy
6:30 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Irene Hits Agriculture Hard

Agriculture officials say most of North Carolina’s biggest and most profitable farming operations are in the state’s coastal region that was hit hard by Hurricane Irene.  

Tobacco was one of the hardest hit crops during Hurricane Irene – a 750-million dollar industry.  Brian Long is with the state Agriculture Department.

Brian Long:  "If you think about how much tobacco was still out there, yet to be harvested, and then, Irene’s wind and rain just did a really big number on that crop."

Long says the tobacco was already weak from the drought – just like the corn, cotton and soybeans.  U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack toured parts of eastern North Carolina Tuesday with other officials.

Tom Vilsack:  "I’ve not seen the kind of flooding and damage to crops that I saw briefly today.  And if this is representative of what North Carolina has suffered, it is obviously a fairly significant blow to North Carolina agriculture."

Vilsack says there is crop insurance available and farmers should begin making claims right away.