- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - Cotton farmers in northeast Arkansas are being urged to report damage to their crop as a result of a hail storm, while officials seek a disaster declaration.

State Rep. Homer Lenderman, D-Brookland, told The Jonesboro Sun (http://bit.ly/1qxUheL ) that any farmer with any damage from the storm needs to file a report with the Farm Service Agency and the Cooperative Extension Service so a total number will be available for disaster declaration purposes.

“It’s probably not widespread enough for a federal declaration, but we’re working hard to get a state disaster declaration,” said Lenderman. “That storm affects everyone from the producers themselves to the guys driving trucks, gin employees who were counting on the overtime pay they normally get during the harvest and many others. It’s really devastating in that area.”

An estimated 10,000 acres of the crop is believed to be a total loss with an additional 40,000 acres with varying degrees of damage. Lenderman said the hardest hit areas were Monette, Black Oak, Lester and Leachville.

Mike Brown, county executive director for the Craighead County Farm Service Agency, said he is updating a storm report detailing number of acres affected by the hail storm and how many bales the area is expected to be short.

“We’ve made our initial storm report to Little Rock requesting Craighead County and maybe a little bit of Mississippi County to get a disaster declaration,” he said. “But, in the past all that has meant is that farmers become eligible for low-interest loans. I’m not really sure what a disaster declaration might mean this time.”

Brown said he expects a disaster declaration in a week to 10 days despite the very small portion of the state that was affected.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com

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