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Irene leaves hard times for East Coast farmers

STONEWALL, N.C. — The worst damage from Hurricane Irene isn’t necessarily along the beaches of the East Coast, but far inland, where farmers have seen crops slashed by wind, scalded by salt spray and sunk under water.

Tobacco crops in major producing states like North Carolina and Virginia have been hit particularly hard. The hot summer delayed the growing season, so most of the plant was still in the fields when Irene hit. Some farmers are reporting total losses of the crop, and damage is already estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

Farmers battered by floods in upstate New York and Vermont are also hurting, as are blueberry growers in New Jersey and farmers with corn crops in Maryland.

Federal officials say it will be weeks before the damage is tallied.

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