Governor Updates Congress On NC Drought

Gov. Mike Easley is making a personal appeal to Congress to send money to drought-ravaged farms in North Carolina.

The two-term Democrat testified before the House Agriculture Committee today about the impact of this year's dry weather on the state's crops and livestock. Easley said the drought is by far the worst to hit the state since records were first kept in 1895.

He said homeowners and local governments across North Carolina have helped out by cutting their own water use. But he said farms are at the mercy of the weather, since their crops and livestock require a certain amount of water in order to live.

Congress is debating whether to set up permanent funding for agriculture disasters, as opposed to loans. Easley said he hasn't asked for a federal declaration of an agriculture disaster in North Carolina, because he doesn't want to falsely raise farmers' hopes.

He said the low-interest loans that would be made available under a declaration would be useless to farmers if they can't pay them back because their crops died.