Hanover farmers losing millions of dollars due to drought

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – This year's agricultural drought has already cost Hanover County farmers more than $14-million. County leaders have now reached out to the Governor for help. They are seeking his aid in securing federal relief.

In this hot and dry summer, corn and soy beans crops have taken the hardest hits. It just so happens that exactly what third generation farmer Robbie Newcomb grows.

"We'll just do the best we can do. We'll just mow it down and hopefully use the fertilization that's in the corn to go towards our next small grain crop," said Newcomb.

Most of these stalks aren't yielding any corn, and what is being produced, isn't worth selling, creating a big loss. At J.M. Newcomb and Sons, there's 115 acres of corn. In a typical year, that would yield at least 150 bushels per acre. This year, the number is about 15. That's where crop insurance and disaster aid comes in. The county will soon provide data to the governor showcasing a need for help. That should activate some federal assistance.

"It means a year of working a lot and not receiving a lot of their work, and hopefully the crop insurance coupled with the disaster programs through the USDA, they can possibly continue farming with the benefits they receive from them," said Hanover Executive Director Kenneth Upshaw.

Upshaw says most farms are in trouble, and that's a big monetary hit considering there are nearly 100 full-time farmers in Hanover, and about 45,000 acres of farmland.

"It affects the economy locally and each year is different, and this has been one of the toughest years since 1977; many farmers have said they can't remember a drought this severe where it affected all the four major crops, wheat, barley, corn and soy beans," said Upshaw.

Hanover is certainly not alone, as lots of areas are asking for help. Henrico County leaders decided last week to seek a disaster designation and federal assistance for farmers.

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