(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture
Charles M. Kuperus today visited several farms hit
by the torrential rain and floods of July 12-13, assuring
farmers of the services available to them as they battle
back from the natural disaster.
The Secretary’s visit followed up on a letter sent to all farmers
in the area hit hardest by the storm and floods, in which he further
outlined services available to help repair dams, protect livestock and
rebound from lost crops.
“Farmers by nature are a very independent lot, and sometimes are reluctant
to avail themselves of help such as loans and technical assistance available
from state and federal governments,” Secretary Kuperus said. “But
in a case like this, we encourage farmers to participate in the numerous programs
that can help them bounce back from the storm and flood damage that hit this
area. Helping the farmers hardest hit by the storms will help keep working farms
Secretary Kuperus said the storm’s impact was severe for those
farmers in the hardest hit area, but limited to a portion of Burlington
County, as well as some isolated areas of Camden and Ocean Counties.
In some parts of Burlington County, up to 14 inches of rain fell, swelling
creeks and resulting in the breach of numerous dams.
“New Jersey agriculture is extremely diverse and spread throughout the
state,” he said. “While there are serious concerns about the impact
of the storm in this specific region, the rain on Monday and Tuesday was lighter
and much-needed in other portions of the state. Right now, our focus is on doing
all that we can to get the farmers who do have problems from the storm the help
Governor McGreevey on Tuesday sent a letter to President Bush seeking
a Presidential Natural Disaster Declaration. That action, taken at Secretary
Kuperus’ request, would result in expedited federal aid for farmers
if approved by the President. That aid would come in the form of emergency
loans from the federal Farm Service Agency. Additional federal aid will
be sought with a request for a disaster declaration from USDA Secretary
Ann M. Veneman once all damage assessments have been completed, which
should take 10 days to two weeks from the date of the storm.
Farmers seeking help as a result of the storm should contact their local
Farm Service Agency office and report losses by logging onto www.fsa.usda.gov/nj/.
The FSA for Burlington and Camden Counties can be reached at (609) 267-1639,
and in Atlantic County, (856) 205-1225. Questions on crop insurance issues
should be directed to Kim Linonis or Dave Lee at Garden State Crop Insurance
Education Initiative at 1-800-308-2449. Those seeking help with dam repair
should call (609) 984-0859. Those with livestock issues can contact the
NJDA’s Division of Animal Health at (609) 292-3965.