North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler laid the groundwork Thursday for what he’ll ask of lawmakers if they return for a special session later this month to consider Hurricane Matthew relief.
Troxler told the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission he plans to bring a proposal to create an agriculture recovery program — similar to one implemented after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
“We will be huddling up to put together a proposal to bring to them, to try and help get these agricultural people from point A to point B,” said Troxler, a Republican who was elected to a fourth term last month. “And I know as a farmer myself that they have been through two disastrous years in a row.”
Troxler told committee members Hurricane Matthew has caused an estimated $150 million worth of uninsured crop losses and that he wants a program to potentially focus on these uninsured losses.
Troxler also floated the need for additional “water bomber” aircraft to help fight future wildfires. The planes cost about $2 million each, and he told the commission he'd likely ask for at least two new planes. Gov. Pat McCrory has said he plans to call the legislature back for a special session likely to be held the second week of December. Troxler said he is unsure if the General Assembly would want to consider the water bomber plane request then. If not then, he said, he will bring it up once the regular session convenes in January.
The recent wildfires in the western part of the state have cost the N.C. Forest Service division $20 million. Troxler said he anticipates asking for that money from the General Assembly as well. How much money the state will be receiving in relief funds from the federal government is still unclear. McCrory has requested roughly $1 billion, but Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry on Thursday said relief package negotiations are ongoing with Congress and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.