Hurricane Matthew Recovery: Helpful Resources From Cooperative Extension

— Written By and last updated by Denese Prevatte

Many parts of North Carolina have been affected by Hurricane Matthew, including our surrounding communities. Families and businesses are now in the mist of recovering from the aftermath. The agricultural community has taken another hit following significant losses last harvest season with continual rain events throughout the month of October. Impacts from Hurricane Matthew are growing, leaving many with questions about available resources. Cooperative Extension, N.C. State University and North Carolina A & T State University’s largest outreach program with offices in all 100 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is ready to help our citizens in need. Cooperative Extension has developed a new website to help organize a broad range of resources available to help assist in the recovery process. The new website can be found at https://ncdisaster.ces.ncsu.edu.

Not only are farmers across our area likely to experience lower yields and quality but they may also not be able to sell their flood damage products to be used for human consumption. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), crops and commodities that have come into contact with floodwaters are considered “adulterated” and can no longer enter the human food channels. FDA describes it as: “Flooding is the flowing or overflowing of a field with water outside a grower’s control. Pooled water (e.g. after rainfall) that is not reasonably likely to cause contamination of the edible portions of fresh produce is not considered flooding.”  Flood-damaged crops and commodities may be used for animal feed but ONLY if approved by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) testing protocol first. Cooperative Extension is working with NCDA&CS to assist growers with determining safe uses of crops and commodities affected by Hurricane Matthew floodwaters. Following FDA guidelines, farmers with crops contacted with floodwaters will have to submit a diversion request to the NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division. Farmers are encouraged to store damaged crops separately to prevent further contamination and wait for approval before using such crops for animal feed. Contact your local Extension Center for guidance. Hopefully, floodwater-contacted crops are only a small percentage of our acreage and stored grain.

I would also like to stress the need for agricultural-related businesses to report damage or loss to state and federal authorities to enable adequate disaster assistance. Farmers, livestock producers, and other agricultural interests can call the Agricultural Weather Emergency Hotline at 1-866-645-9403 to report any damage or loss to the NCDA&CS. Farmers with crop insurance are encouraged to contact their agent as soon as possible. Agricultural producers are also encouraged to contact their local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Farm Service Agency (FSA) with damage/loss reports and for more information on several government disaster assistance programs available to help in the recovery process.

It will be helpful to document damage with photographs, inventories before and after the storm, and records of labor and equipment used for disaster cleanup. More information on disaster assistance programs can be found at the previously mentioned website.

For more information, please contact Mac Malloy, Extension Field Crops Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at Mac_Malloy@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.