TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie said today that federal Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack has granted a Natural Disaster Designation for 20 out of 21 New Jersey counties following flooding and high winds from Hurricane Irene, among other weather-related events.
The disaster designation makes farmers eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, which could include emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE).
Christie requested the disaster designation prior to the hurricane, but the request was open-ended and covers damages and crop loss beginning May 14. Besides the hurricane, farmers suffered through excessive heat and rain, flash flooding, and hail earlier in the year.
“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,” Christie said in a statement. “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.”
New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher added, “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. 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.”
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. The loans could cover up to 100 percent of the dollar value of the losses.
To receive assistance, farmers must have lost 30 percent of their crops, livestock, inventory or property, due to the weather events.
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