SEVENTEEN NJ COUNTIES DECLARED DISASTER AREAS
Farmers to Benefit After Harsh Weather Caused LossesFor Immediate Release: August 22, 2006
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has designated 17 New Jersey counties as natural disaster areas, following heavy rains, flooding and other severe weather conditions that led to crop and livestock losses during the month of June.
Excessive precipitation, high winds, hail, and high humidity that occurred from June 1 and on led New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine to seek a disaster declaration to assist farmers effected by the weather by providing them with low-interest emergency loans.
“In the past 14 months, New Jersey farmers have been hit hard with harsh weather - everything from damaging hail and wind, to floods and even drought,” said Governor Corzine. “Farming businesses are dependent upon the weather, and the federal loan program can provide much needed assistance when the weather doesn’t cooperate.”
The counties included in the primary disaster designation are: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren. Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union Counties were named as contiguous disaster counties.
“Field to field, farm to farm, region to region, we have experienced everything from some of the most dramatic losses to some very high quality yields this season,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “This disaster declaration will help ensure that New Jersey’s agriculture industry is strong and thriving now and in the future.”
The disaster designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties who suffered 30 percent or more on losses directly due to the harsh weather eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from Farm Services Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. The loans can cover up to 100 percent of the dollar value of the losses.
FSA State Executive Director Paul Hlubik said farmers lost millions of dollars in crops this year due to hail storms, localized flooding, excessive rain and subsequent insect and disease damage. He said heat and wet conditions also caused accelerated maturing of crops and other problems.
“Although the weather affected farmers individually, consumers will still find quality Jersey Fresh produce available in abundance throughout the state,” said Hlubik. “The Secretarial Disaster Designation makes farmers eligible for low interest loans and restructuring of debt. I’m grateful to Secretary Johanns for providing this assistance and to Governor Corzine for seeking this aid on behalf of the farmers I serve.”
Farmers in Mercer, Hunterdon and Warren Counties as well as the contiguous counties already were eligible for assistance based on a Presidential disaster declaration due to flooding in June.
FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
For further information, contact the State FSA office at (609) 298-3446 or visit FSA on the web at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov/emloan.htm.