Governor’s Press Release: Gov. Peter Shumlin announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the administration’s request for natural disaster declaration assistance for farmers in all 14 counties in Vermont (Lamoille, Washington and Windham were named as contiguous disaster areas) to help with damage costs from storms and heavy rainfall that began in April.
“I appreciate Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack approving this request, and hope farmers who lost crops and equipment in the spring and summer storms will move quickly to seek emergency loan assistance from the Farm Service Agency,” the Governor said.
The Governor also thanked Vermont’s congressional delegation – Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch – who helped secure storm-related federal assistance for farmers and communities from the spring storms and Tropical Storm Irene.
The spring flooding forced many farmers to delay planting, and early season crops were flooded.
Eligible farmers can apply for two types of assistance. First, farmers have eight months to apply for the federal loans through the Farm Service Agency, which will be available immediately with an interest rate of below four percent. The loans can be used to restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation; and refinance certain debts.
Second, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program will provide assistance in 2012 to farmers who meet certain loss qualifications (a 10 percent production loss affecting one crop of economic significance due to a disaster on a farm in 2011 in a disaster county). There are other requirements to qualify, and sign-up dates have not been announced yet.
Farmers should contact the USDA Farm Services Agency for both emergency loans and supplemental revenue assistance.
“This is wonderful news about the declaration – it’s another piece of the puzzle to help Vermont farmers comes back stronger than ever,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, who spent the day touring the state with Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It’s great to be with Deputy Secretary Merrigan, who knows Vermont well from her time with Sen. Patrick Leahy and is now visiting our state,” he added.
The declaration reflects damage that began during heavy rain on April 1. Eleven counties were deemed natural disaster areas, with three others also eligible for aid as contiguous disaster areas.