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Request to President Aims to “Fast Track” Help for Farmers

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2004


Jeff Beach




(TRENTON) – Governor James E. McGreevey sought a Presidential Natural Disaster Designation for farms in South Jersey hit hard by the massive rainstorm and flooding on July 12 and 13.

Farmers, including some of the state’s cranberry growers, were hit by the torrential rains, which unloaded as much as 14.5 inches of water from Monday evening into early Tuesday morning. The storm and resulting flooding caused damage to crops, property, farm equipment and water and soil resources.

At the request of Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus, the Governor sent a letter to President Bush seeking emergency relief for farmers who suffered losses.

“New Jersey’s farmers deserve the best and fastest possible response when a calamity of this magnitude hits,” Governor McGreevey said. “They provide the backbone of one of our state’s largest industries, one that is often at the mercy of the elements, as this massive storm demonstrated.”

Secretary Kuperus’ request for a Presidential declaration came amid reports of extensive damage to some farms in Burlington and Camden counties, including an initial assessment by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency that the damage could be devastating to some cranberry farmers. A Presidential disaster declaration would fast track federal assistance beyond that normally sought in such situations.

Officials from the USDA Farm Service Agency continued to assess the storm’s impact today and said they would not have total damage estimates for about two weeks.

“The irony of this storm is that New Jersey’s farmers had been enjoying one of the best seasons ever, thanks in large part to warm weather and moderate rains,” said Secretary Kuperus. “This just shows the incredible amount of damage that can result from even one major storm. What is fortunate is that the most severe damage was fairly localized, while other portions of the state received significantly less rainfall. In fact, the rainfall in most of the rest of the state was needed and will be beneficial to the crops in those areas.”

Officials in the affected areas continued surveying the storm’s aftermath today. Hundreds of residents in the Burlington County towns of Medford, Medford Lakes, Mount Laurel, Lumberton and Southampton were evacuated from their homes Monday night after flooding from creeks and streams became a threat.

Farmers seeking help as a result of the storm should contact their local Farm Service Agency office and report losses by logging onto www.fsa.usda.gov/nj/. The FSA phone number for Burlington and Camden Counties is (609) 267-1639, and for Atlantic County, (856) 205-1225. Questions on crop insurance issues should be directed to Kim Linonis or Dave Lee at Garden State Crop Insurance Education Initiative at 1-800-308-2449.