Shore counties get drought disaster okay
Crop losses during last year's drought were sufficient in the northern counties of the Eastern Shore to win a drought disaster declaration from the federal government. Farmers in those counties and those immediately adjacent will be eligible to apply for low-cost loans and other benefits.
Here is today's news release from the Maryland Department of Agriculture:
Maryland Receives Federal Crop Disaster Designation for Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne's Counties due to Drought
ANNAPOLIS, MD (Feb. 25, 2009) - Governor Martin O'Malley has received
notification from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas J.
Vilsack that Maryland's request for a disaster designation for crop
losses due to a drought during the 2008 growing season has been
approved. The February 19 letter stated that there were sufficient
production losses in Cecil, Kent, Caroline, and Queen Anne's counties to
warrant a Secretarial disaster designation. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) estimated production losses to be $29 million for hay and grain crops.
"Because farmers in the four northernmost Eastern Shore counties
experienced significant crop losses, we requested a disaster designation
and thank Secretary Vilsack for granting it," said Governor O'Malley.
"It is our hope that the designation will provide relief to the farmers
who need it and help them prepare for the upcoming growing season."
"Rainfall on the Eastern Shore was spotty last summer causing some
areas to have a normal crop while other, sometimes adjacent land,
received almost none and had failing crops," said Roger Richardson,
Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
This designation makes farm operators in the four primary counties as
well as contiguous counties - Dorchester, Harford and Talbot counties -
eligible to be considered for assistance from the USDA Farm Service
Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance
includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance
Program which was approved as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Rainfall departures from normal based on National Weather
Service-gathered rain gauge reports between May 28 and November 23 of
this year were: Cecil County -1.0 inch; Kent County -3.0 inches; Queen
Anne's County - 2.8 inches; Caroline County -4.2 inches."
Much of the state is dry again this month. Here (left) are today's streamflow data from the USGS. The dark red and bright red dots indicate record or near-record low volumes for this time of year.