WASHINGTON —The U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to offer services to farmers whose livestock and crops were damaged in the devastation brought on last week by Hurricane Irene. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA is deploying personnel and resources to assist the efforts by federal, state and local authorities in response to the hurricane.
"We continue to closely coordinate with many partners to meet the immediate and plan for the long-term needs of those affected by Hurricane Irene," said Vilsack. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have suffered losses caused by this massive storm. USDA is ready to provide food, emergency assistance and other resources to the affected areas."
Hurricane Irene affected the ability of some dairy cooperatives and handlers in the Northeast to pick up milk at local farms particularly in Southern Vermont and Eastern New York. In some instances milk was dumped on the farm when it was unable to be picked up on a timely basis or where loss of power impacted milk quality, rendering such milk as non-Grade A. Due to the impact of this natural disaster on dairy farmers in the Northeast, USDA is taking administrative action to include this milk as part of the Federal milk marketing order pool for the months of August and September as needed, although it was never delivered to a plant for processing. This decision will enable cooperatives and handlers to pay the Federal order blend price to affected producers on all the volume that they produced including any milk dumped due to Hurricane Irene.
USDA encourages all farmers, ranchers, producers, landowners and rural communities to contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center to report damages to crops or livestock loss; their local Rural Development office for housing, business or community assistance information and/or their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office for help with debris removal. Below are some programs that offer assistance:
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) - NAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers affected by drought, flood, hurricane, or other natural disasters. NAP covers non-insurable crop losses and planting prevented by disasters. Landowners, tenants, or sharecroppers who share in the risk of producing an eligible crop are eligible. Eligible crops include commercial crops and other agricultural commodities produced for food, including livestock feed or fiber for which the catastrophic level of crop insurance is unavailable. Also eligible for NAP coverage are controlled-environment crops (mushroom and floriculture), specialty crops (honey and maple sap), and value loss crops (aquaculture, Christmas trees, ginseng, ornamental nursery, and turf grass sod).