Cantwell, Murray Announce Assistance Available to WA for 2009 Farming Losses

USDA disaster designation clears way for assistance to help cover losses suffered from extreme weather

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that farmers in eleven Washington state counties are now eligible to apply for emergency assistance to offset losses suffered during extreme weather conditions in October of 2009. The U.S. Department of Agriculture today designated the counties eligible for disaster assistance. Producers in Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Ferry, Grant, King, Kittitas, Lincoln, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom Counties are eligible to apply for USDA emergency funding. Cantwell and Murray wrote in March to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack in support of Governor Christine Gregoire’s January request for immediate disaster designations stemming from the weather-related losses.


“Last fall’s extreme weather conditions had a devastating effect on farms in Washington,” Senator Maria Cantwell said. “I am pleased that the Agriculture Department has taken the necessary steps to enable many of our affected farmers to apply for this emergency aid. Federal Disaster Assistance is critical to helping productive farms and the jobs they support recover from natural disasters.”


“Farmers across Washington state are struggling with severe weather conditions that are destroying crops and damaging irrigation systems,” said Senator Patty Murray. “A Secretarial Disaster Designation is important to ensuring farmers can access disaster programs to help farmers stay on their feet. I’m pleased that the Department of Agriculture has approved Governor Gregoire’s disaster request.”


Record low temperatures and freezing rain caused considerable harm to crops in counties across Washington state in October of 2009. In particular, apple trees, grape vines, and several varieties of wheat were severely damaged, causing losses for some producers during the harvest season. In Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties, record-low temperatures and freezing conditions occurred over a three-day period last October, severely damaging crops. Those three counties are bordered by Ferry, King, Lincoln, Snohomish, Grant, Kittitas, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties, which USDA  named as contiguous disaster counties. Under the disaster designation, farmers in all eleven counties are eligible to apply to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for assistance including FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE). Farmers in eligible counties have eight months to apply for emergency loan assistance. Farmers seeking more information should contact their local FSA offices.