The time is now to help farmers

Published 8:13 pm Saturday, October 2, 2010

The year 2010 won’t go down as a banner year for farmers in Suffolk — or, indeed, for any farmers throughout the region.

Fields that only last year were producing record yields of various crops this year stirred up dust in the midst of skeletal plants. A dry, unrelentingly hot summer gave way this week to a four-day torrential downpour, which all but ruined the crops that still stood a chance at being successful.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Agency reports Suffolk farmers experienced a 90-percent loss of several summer crops. The extension service also predicts a 50-percent loss of cotton. Late-planted soybeans are the one product of Suffolk’s fields that farmers may be able to salvage after the year of record highs and historic rain.

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Help may be on the way for our farmers, who work tirelessly to produce the food Americans find on their tables each day. A request for a drought disaster declaration has made its way through the various levels of bureaucracy to the secretary of the federal Department of Agriculture.

Such a declaration would open up federal avenues of relief to help farmers pay bills, repair equipment, purchase supplies for the coming year and look forward to the next crop with anticipation.

With all the wasteful spending at the federal level, surely a few dollars can be spared this year to help farmers who have been tormented by unfavorable weather. It isn’t a handout, but rather a valuable resource for those who toil to produce our most valuable resource.