With no rain in site, dryland farmers are turning in their insurance claims for crops that show no sign of growing. Adjusters say claims are at an all time high and will most likely triple compared to the number processed last year.
"There's nothing out there. There's hardly even any weeds," said farmer Eddie Thetford about 400 acres of his dryland crop. He's worked the land on the South Plains for nearly four decades. "This is the longest I've seen it not rain," he said.
There really is nothing to show for Thetford's dryland crop. "You might lose one farm in one county but you keep the rest but this time it is all over the South Plains," said Thetford.
ARMtech National Claims Supervisor Steve Fortenberry said his adjusters are working around the clock across the region. "It's covering all of Texas from the panhandle to south of Midland. It's a devastating drought," he said. "It's been hectic all of the producers with the extreme drought and wind conditions are turning in claims." There is a strong chance Fortenberry said that they will process every policy holder.
"We've never seen them at this magnitude. We have more claims. We've had pockets of poor conditions but in Texas from the top of the panhandle to south of Midland we are seeing the same dry conditions," said Fortenberry. Looking at Thetford's property, ARMtech estimates he'll receive 100 percent of his policy. "It's not for them to make money. It is for them to stay in business," said Fortenberry about crop insurance.
"When you farm you expect some of these things to happen every once in a while," explained Thetford. He is hopeful that his 1000 acres of irrigated cotton crop will make it through so he has something to salvage. "We are hoping for rain in the next two to three weeks. If not, we will go into a different mode we haven't been in before. We may have to abandon half of the circle to keep the other half alive. I've heard farmers talk about that," said Thetford.
It could take time before farmers see a check due to the overwhelming number of claims.
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