WALLACE, NC – Justine Price was looking forward to a great soybean crop this fall. His beans were coming in strong, covering the fields of his eastern North Carolina farm in a lush green.
Mother Nature had other plans.
As Hurricane Florence approached the North Carolina coast, he moved his equipment to higher ground and prepared as best he could for what was expected to be a storm with Category 4 winds.
What he wasn’t expecting was the rain. The storm stalled once it made landfall and dumped almost 30 inches on his farm. The river flooded, and water rose to about 5 feet in his garage as Price and his wife moved their furniture to the second story of their home.
Today, piles of debris from the inside of gutted homes lines the street in his hometown of Wallace.
In his fields, brown and rotting soybeans are tangled. Old tires, a refrigerator, gas cans and wooden crates are strewn across another nearby field.
Price spends his time now trying to rebuild, helping his family and loading supplies at the fire department to help with the relief effort. His crops are a total loss.
“I had been smart in my decision making,” he says, “and carried crop insurance, which you know that’s not a salvation but it’s a help.”
Down the road in Mt. Olive, Reginald Strickland faces the same damage. His cotton crop is rotting in the fields and his tobacco is destroyed.
“Every dollar will help,” he says, “because we are going to be in the hole.”
And it’s not just this year. Eastern North Carolina has suffered hurricanes, droughts and low prices for several years running.
The damage left in Hurricane Florence’s wake is a reminder of the reason American agriculture needs a strong, affordable and widely available system of crop insurance. The adjusters will make their assessments and get payments to farmers here much faster than any ad hoc federal relief bill.
“Crop insurance is very important to all of Ag,” Strickland says. “We really need it. We have to have it. It is the only way we can continue to produce the food and fiber it takes to feed the world.”
Price says the payments won’t cover everything and they won’t provide him income until the next crop is harvested. But they will help him farm another season.
For now, he is putting his faith in a higher power.
“Just trust in the Lord,” he says. “That’s the biggest thing.”