Home > News > Press Releases > 2009 > U.S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DECLARES NATURAL DISASTER IN 15 NJ COUNTIES TO HELP ALLEVIATE FARM LOSSES
U.S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DECLARES NATURAL DISASTER IN 15 NJ COUNTIES TO HELP ALLEVIATE FARM LOSSES
Farmers Suffered Weather-Related Damages During the Growing SeasonFor Immediate Release: October 1, 2009
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack has designated 15 New Jersey counties as natural disaster areas, following heavy rainfall, hail, a tornado and associated plant diseases that led to crop losses during the 2009 growing season.
Governor Jon S. Corzine began the process of bringing relief to impacted farmers in early August by requesting the designation, when reports began coming in that the extreme weather since April was causing crop and property damage on farms.
“We are thankful to Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the serious situation some farmers are facing this year after storms damaged the crops they depend upon to make their living,” said Governor Corzine. “The low-interest loans and other available programs will provide needed assistance for these farmers, helping to ensure the continued health and well-being of our state’s agricultural industry.”
The Office of the State Climatologist reported the statewide rainfall total for June through August was 19.18 inches, which is 6.34 inches above average and ranks as the 5th wettest summer since 1895 and the wettest since 1975.
Examples of the damage incurred by farmers this year include: Some wheat fields were damaged, resulting in a 27 percent reduction from the previous year in the amount of wheat produced in the state. A hail storm in Hunterdon County destroyed one farmer’s apple crop and a July 29 tornado in Sussex County completely devastated one farm, damaged barns, silos and uprooted trees.
“Under normal growing conditions, a farmer faces several obstacles in bringing a crop to the table, from battling weather extremes, insect and disease issues to outside market influences,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “In spite of that and the added problems from adverse weather conditions, our hard-working, resilient farmers still managed to bring the public high quality, delicious agricultural products this season.”
The counties included in the designation are: Atlantic, Cape May, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren Counties. Morris, Passaic and Union Counties are named as contiguous disaster counties.
“Farmers throughout the state suffered from torrential rains, hail, and even tornadoes through the summer months,” said Paul Hlubik, Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in New Jersey. “This was one of the wettest meteorological summers on record in many parts of the state, causing disease, planting and harvest delays for a number of crops.”
“Secretary Fisher and the State Board of Agriculture should be commended for being proactive in seeking this declaration and Governor Corzine, for his swift response to the farm community’s needs,” Hlubik continued. “I’m grateful to Secretary Vilsack for granting the declaration. This 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 April 15 to the present and continuing. The designation makes 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.
The loans could cover up to 100 percent of the dollar value of the losses. Farmers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans. 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.
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.