Nov 23, 1999 - If you're looking for a lucky person to pick your next lottery numbers, check with Chris Stancill, third generation North Carolina farmer. Stancill and his brother, Danny, plant 2500 acres of cotton worth $700,000 in a good year in Pitt, Lenoir, and Craven Counties. Before 1999--the year that Dennis, Floyd, and Irene dumped mega rain on Carolina's cotton and tobacco fields, the year that the Swift River flooded every field within a mile of its normally placid bed--the farmers carried no crop insurance on their cotton acreage.
Due to better commodity pricing, cotton has become the brothers' No. 1 crop, since they first began planting it in 1990. However, it wasn't until the 1999 crop year that the partners decided to buy crop insurance on their cotton acreage. And what a wise decision that turned out to be. Following Floyd, about 70 percent of their total acreage was submerged for 3-4 days.
"Before this year, we always had enough equity to cover any cotton financing requirements, and we had been fortunate to have favorable weather. But we reached the point where not having coverage on the cotton would mean we would be bankrupt if we lost the crop." said Stancill. The brothers made another good decision, opting for 65 percent buy-up over basic catastrophic coverage.
Stancill has bought crop insurance for the farm's tobacco crop, now at 220 acres, since he began farming in 1984. Tobacco crop insurance had always provided protection for the crop as well as collateral for lenders. "North Carolina bankers insist on crop insurance for tobacco before they will loan a farmer operating money," Stancill said.
Many other North Carolina cotton farmers thought coverage for their cotton was a good idea too–90 percent of the acreage in flooded counties had crop insurance coverage. Of the estimated $213 million loss payments that will go to North Carolina farmers this year, about $162 million (76 percent) will be for flood-related losses.