TEN NJ COUNTIES DECLARED DISASTER AREAS
Farmers to Benefit After Harsh Weather Caused LossesFor Immediate Release: September 22, 2008
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – United States Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer has designated 10 New Jersey counties as natural disaster areas, following hail storms, drought, heat and other severe weather conditions that led to crop losses during the 2008 growing season.
On August 13, three days after hail storms damaged crops in Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, Atlantic and Camden counties, Governor Jon S. Corzine requested the disaster designation, saying New Jersey farmers had experienced substantial agricultural production losses to important crops.
“A variety of inclement weather patterns this summer have had a devastating impact on some of our farmers,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “We owe a great deal of thanks to Senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg and our Congressional delegation, who wrote letters to Secretary Schafer supporting Governor Corzine’s request and helped us achieve the designation to bring relief to growers, some of whom suffered partial or complete crop loss.”
The counties included in the primary disaster designation are: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem,. Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset counties were named as contiguous disaster counties.
“A number of growers were hurt this season due to hail, drought and heat,” said Paul Hlubik, Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in New Jersey. “The disaster designation makes them eligible for low-interest loans and plans are being finalized and rules developed to provide direct disaster aid to farmers, for the first time in any Farm Bill. I’m grateful to Secretary Schafer for providing this assistance and to Governor Corzine for seeking this aid on behalf of the farmers I serve.”
Secretary Schafer designated Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem counties as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by the combined effects of high winds, excessive rain, flash floods and hail that occurred from May 12 through August 10, 2008; and also because of losses caused by drought and high temperatures that occurred during the period of June 10, 2008, and continuing.
The Secretarial 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. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
USDA has also made other programs available to assist farmers, including the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov or www.nj.gov/agriculture/grants/disaster.html.