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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Declares Drought Disaster in New Jersey

For Immediate Release: October 18, 2002


Hope Gruzlovic




Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced today that New Jersey's request for a federal drought disaster designation has been approved, making farmers who have suffered significant crop losses eligible for federal financial assistance.

"Farmers in New Jersey have suffered significant losses to important crops and livestock resulting from the extended drought," said Governor James E. McGreevey, who requested the disaster designation. "This designation will ensure that they can receive needed assistance to help compensate them for those losses."

"The sustained heat and lack of rain made this a very hard year for New Jersey farmers," said Paul Hlubik, state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. "Virtually every sector of the agricultural industry has been affected. Many New Jersey farmers have suffered losses of 50 percent or more in various commodities, most notably corn and soybeans."

"The Farm Service Agency deserves credit for all its work in coordinating the county-by-county damage assessment reporting that formed the justification for the designation," said Secretary Kuperus. "This designation is essential to providing our farmers with the help they need to keep their operations in business and to make sure that, for years to come, our farms will continue to be productive."

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman announced the agricultural natural disaster designation today that applies to 19 primary counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren.

The declaration makes farmers in those counties eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans and farm credit programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. Farmers in counties contiguous to primary counties also are eligible for this assistance.

Farmers in primary counties also are eligible for payments through the USDA's Livestock Compensation Program to help compensate them for the costs of lost pasture and other sources of feed.

Farmers seeking financial assistance should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.