Farm Service Agency assessing damage in wake of hurricane

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BUTLER, Pa. – Farm Service Agency personnel are gathering information in anticipation of federal funds becoming available to help clean up the muddy mess left by Hurricane Ivan, said Luke Fritz, executive director the agency for Beaver and Butler counties.
“To date damage assessment reports … have not been requested for agricultural type losses.” Fritz said. “However, (the Federal Emergency Management Administration) may soon request (those assessments) from specific counties.”
Devastation … “The Farm Service Agency has been receiving reports of agricultural losses due to the flooding. In some cases entire fields were flattened, corn that was eight feet tall now looks as if it was rolled by a huge roller.”
… or contamination. “Other acreage remains standing with production but is covered by mud and dirt,” Fritz said.
Produce farmers in some cases are finding they cannot market fruit and vegetables that were flooded due to contamination.
In addition to production losses, flood waters carried a significant amount of debris that was deposited on farmland. Access roads, waterways and other conservation practices were damaged or destroyed on some farms.
“Really it seems to depend on where the farm is located with regard to the amount of damage,” Fritz said. “If a stream was not in close proximity, damage could be minimal.”
Growers seeking recovery help for insured crop losses are being advised to contact their crop insurance agents.
For crop losses that are not insured, growers are advised to contact the agency and request a crop appraisal if the acreage will not be harvested. Growers who are harvesting damaged acres are being advised to contact the agency when harvest is complete.
Crop appraisals and bin measurements can be completed for a fee, normally $40.
For the record. “However, all this will do is document the loss, and then if and when a disaster program is enacted the appraisal will support a disaster claim,” Fritz said.
A request has been made for cost-share money from the Emergency Conservation Program to help with debris removal, fence replacement, and leveling and grading, but no funds will be available until Congress makes an appropriation. Farm owners can make requests now.
“For those farms that have severe damage, the program could help,” Fritz said..
Contact the office for more information at 724-482-4800 #2 or 724-775-2369 #2.

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