In a letter to the U.S. Agriculture Secretary this week, Gov. Mike Easley asked for a disaster declaration for 85 of the state’s 100 counties on account of crop losses due to drought.
According to a USDA assessment, most of the counties Easley cited have lost a third or more of at least one significant crop. The drought, which has been most severe in the counties west of Asheville, has affected not only field crops but has significantly reduced the quality and supply of hay, impacting livestock such as beef cattle and requiring some farmers to sell off at least portions of their herds.
Nearby, Easley’s request includes Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, Mitchell and Transylvania counties.
— Kent Priestley, staff writer