‘My heart hurts,’ Alabama farmer says after hurricane wipes out pecan crop

Alabama farmers grapple with loss after Hurricane Sally.
Alabama farmers grapple with loss after Hurricane Sally.(wsfa)
Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 12:43 PM CDT
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FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WSFA) - Years of time, effort, and money are now gone for some Alabama farmers after Hurricane Sally tore through their fields and orchards.

“Just a week ago, we had the best crop that we’ve had in years," said Mona Barfield. Her brother oversees B&B Pecan Co., a family farm in south Alabama.

But now, much of the family’s pecan farm lies in ruin.

“My heart hurts for my whole family because I know that this is where their heart is,” she said.

Hurricane Sally left its mark by toppling hundreds of large pecan trees. The uprooted trees mean the uprooting of 10 to 12 years of the Barfield family’s life, “because that’s how long it takes to grow a tree to get a harvest,” Mona said.

Hundreds of other trees still stand upright, but the storm swept off all of the pecans, wiping out this year’s crop. And even the trees standing have twisted and broken branches which means they might not be salvageable.

Barfield said preliminary estimations show they lost about $300,000 this year. “I’ve lost my crop. Who’s going to pay for the cleanup?” she questioned.

There’s a high price tag to remove the overturned trees and “I hope the federal government will at least help the farmers clean up,” Barfield added.

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-District 1, said the federal government won’t leave farmers behind.

“We’re not anywhere close to receiving all the resources we’re going to get from the federal government to help us here," he said.

Gov. Kay Ivey has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers dealing with “catastrophic” crop loss because of Hurricane Sally.

Gov. Kay Ivey requests assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Gov. Kay Ivey requests assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.(wsfa)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will visit damaged areas affected by Hurricane Sally in parts of Alabama and Florida Monday, Sep. 28.

As far as rebuilding the farm, Barfield said she does not know if her 61-year-old brother will stay in the business because of the length of time it takes to grow back the trees.

Barfield’s parents worked the same farm for years before handing it off to their son. They also have experienced devastation like this before with Hurricane Frederic.

“So it’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay," she reassured. “It will. It will. We’re going to bounce back.”

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