Governor Chris Christie today announced that United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack has granted a Natural Disaster Designation for 20 New Jersey counties following flooding and high winds from Hurricane Irene and several other weather disasters for farmers so far this year.
Governor Christie requested the disaster designation prior to Hurricane Irene but the request was open-ended and covers damages and crop loss beginning May 14, 2011 and continuing. Besides the hurricane, farmers suffered through excessive heat and rain, flash flooding, and hail during 2011.
“Hurricane Irene has had a widespread impact on our state and many farmers have taken a severe hit, not just from the effects of Irene, but from other severe weather throughout the 2011 growing season,” said Governor Christie. “In addition to the federal assistance being provided through President Obama’s federal disaster designation, now farmers who suffered losses will have additional federal agriculture assistance programs at their disposal.”
The designation includes all counties in the state, except for Hudson.
“This Natural Disaster Designation makes farmers, some of whom have lost entire crops, eligible for federal disaster relief programs offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “We are very thankful for Governor Christie and Secretary Vilsack’s support in bringing this about quickly so our farmers can get the relief they need.”
“Farm Service Agency is in the process of assessing just how severe our farmers’ losses are this year, after a series of extreme weather conditions,” 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 their swift action to make 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 makes farm operators 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 2011 crop losses will be accepted in 2012, when the 2011 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.