Alabama requests nearly $50 million to help farmers after storm damage

Ala. AG talks impact of drought

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has sent around $50 million in grant requests to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help some Alabama farmers recover from storm damage.

Farmers are still picking up the pieces after destruction from Hurricane Michael in October, tornadoes ripping through Lee County and surrounding areas, and floods in north Alabama.

Thomas Kirkland is a cotton, peanut and cattle farmer in Dale County. He lost thousands of dollars from storm disasters.

“We were halfway through harvesting cotton when the hurricane hit," Kirkland said.

Other farmers share Kirkland’s story with some, he said, experiencing total lost. He said financial assistance would be helpful for farmers, “especially the people who were totally wiped out and didn’t get to harvest anything.”

Congress approved around an approximately $3 billion disaster relief package in June. The money is aimed at helping, in part, farmers in the cotton and soybean industries.

However, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Rick Pate said some farming industries could be left out of that relief, so the department requested a $50 million grant out of that appropriation for the state to distribute. The request would need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We had, of course, lots of irrigation torn up. We lost a lot of peanuts. There were just lots of crops that were hit hard," Pate said.

He said the grant money is aimed at helping farmers in the poultry, forestry, pecan, livestock, irrigation, peanut and specialty crops industries.

“It’s not enough money to make anybody whole,” Pate said. “There’s not enough money for that, but it’ll help certainly.”

The department said they want the money to help 16 different counties in Alabama. If the USDA approves it, the department said the money could come in as early as October.

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