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Seeking Federal Relief for Farmers Who Suffered Losses
For Immediate Release: August 11, 2009
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – Governor Jon S. Corzine today sent a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack asking him to issue a natural disaster designation for Burlington, Camden, Mercer, Ocean, Sussex and Warren Counties for damage incurred this growing season due to a tornado and other severe storms.

“We must act swiftly to help the many farmers in the state who are suffering due to crop losses and extensive property damage caused by a tornado last month and various serious storms with high winds, significant hail and heavy rainfall throughout this season,” said Governor Corzine.  “A disaster designation would make those farmers eligible for federal loans and other relief programs to help them rebuild and stay on their farms.”

On July 29, a tornado touched down in Sussex County, completely devastating some farms, damaging barns and silos and uprooting trees.  In addition, since mid-April, various rain storms have caused problems for various crops.

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher toured the tornado-damaged area last Thursday.

“I saw that within a matter of just a few moments, a farm family’s life was completely turned upside down due to Mother Nature,” said Secretary Fisher.  “I commend Governor Corzine for quickly seeking relief for farmers impacted by these weather incidents.”   

The disaster designation request covers losses from April 15 to the present.  Burlington, Camden, Mercer, Ocean, Sussex and Warren counties were included in the request after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s State Emergency Board reviewed Loss Assessment Reports submitted by each county.  Additional counties may be added as losses are identified.

The Secretarial Disaster Designation would make farm operators in the effected 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 could cover up to 100 percent of the dollar value of the losses.  Farmers in eligible counties would have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.  FSA considers each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. 

USDA also has other programs available to assist farmers.  For more information, visit:

Honorable Thomas Vilsack
Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Room 200 Administration Building
14th and Independence Avenue
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

Recent serious weather conditions have adversely impacted New Jersey farmers this growing season.  Physical losses and extensive crop damage have resulted from a tornado and other storms, consisting of high winds, significant hail and heavy rainfall.  In addition, members of the State Emergency Board have recognized that adverse weather can increase the incidence of late blight in vegetables and vomitoxin in wheat.  There have been substantial agricultural production losses to important crops and considerable property damage in many areas of the state. 

I am requesting that you issue a natural disaster designation for damages incurred during the 2009 growing season for crop damage caused by periods of high winds, significant hail, and heavy rainfall. The storms and resultant damage are part of continued adverse weather conditions that have been affecting areas of our state for several months commencing April 15, 2009 and continuing through the present. Significant property damage was incurred during a tornado on July 29, 2009. We request the following New Jersey counties to be included in the natural disaster designation: Burlington, Camden Mercer, Ocean, Sussex and Warren. Additional counties may be added as losses are identified. 

My request is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s State Emergency Board, which unanimously recommended that New Jersey request a U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation. The Board issued this recommendation after reviewing the Loss Assessment Reports submitted by each county.

A natural disaster designation will enable New Jersey farmers to apply for emergency loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and for other relief that may be made available from the federal government.

If you require further information, please contact New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher at (609) 292-3976. Thank you for your consideration.


Jon S. Corzine