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US SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DECLARES NATURAL DISASTER IN SIX NJ COUNTIES TO HELP ALLEVIATE FARM LOSSES
Farmers Suffered Weather-Related Damages During the Growing Season
For Immediate Release: September 7, 2010
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack has designated six New Jersey counties as natural disaster areas, following high winds, frost, freeze, hail and flooding during May that led to crop losses.
Governor Chris Christie began the process of bringing relief to impacted farmers in mid-August when reports began coming in that the extreme weather had caused crop and property loss on farms in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean Counties.
“We are thankful to Governor Christie and Secretary Vilsack’s quick action to make farmers impacted by the severe weather conditions in May eligible for federal disaster relief programs,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “Even with the adverse weather, New Jersey still has had a very successful growing season, producing fruits and vegetables with excellent quality and flavor.”
The designation includes the contiguous counties of Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth and Salem Counties. A subsequent disaster request is being prepared to assist farmers harmed by excessively hot and dry conditions this summer.
“Severe weather conditions can adversely impact crops at any time during a growing season, but May is a crucial time for many crops, such as blueberries,” said Paul Hlubik, Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in New Jersey. “I’m grateful to Secretary Vilsack, Governor Christie, and Secretary Fisher for making the disaster designation possible. It will not only make farmers eligible for low-interest loans and restructuring, it also will provide direct relief through the Supplemental Revenue disaster assistance program to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria.”
The disaster designation covers losses from May 7 to May 31, making farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE).
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. The loans could cover up to 100 percent of the dollar value of the losses. Farmers must have suffered a 30 percent loss in crop production or physical loss to livestock, inventory or property and meet FSA’s eligibility requirements. FSA considers each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
SURE program applications for 2010 crop losses will be accepted in 2011, when the 2010 farm revenue data required by statue becomes available.
Farmers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for details. To find a local office, visit http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=nj&agency=fsa.
For more information on FSA’s disaster assistance programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=diap&topic=landing.