Northwestern farmers who lost crops due to extreme heat qualify for federal disaster relief
Extreme heat-stung Pacific Northwest food producers will be eligible for disaster relief under a $ 10 billion program included in legislation now enacted.
Record temperatures in late June caused losses across much of the state, from oyster farms in the Puget Sound area to orchards in the Yakima Valley and potato growers in the Columbia River Basin.
Several members of the Washington Congressional delegation, including Representative Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Representative Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, worked to ensure that food producers who suffered damage from extreme weather conditions are eligible for the new money.
“A berry grower in my district lost 84% of the farm’s crop to the heat, which is an estimated loss of income of $ 232,000,” said DelBene. “There were record temperatures and losses that we had never seen before. “
Newhouse, who has been working on disaster financing for farmers for two years, said the new money would bring “certainty and a sense of relief to our producers in the midst of a disaster.”
The $ 10 billion in disaster relief was included in legislation signed September 30 by President Joe Biden to keep the federal government operating until at least early December. The US Department of Agriculture is currently working on developing rules to guide the distribution of the money.
Many American farmers are expected to tap into the relief fund, which the law says is intended to cover losses over the past two years due to hurricanes, drought, floods, winter storms, extreme cold, weather, forest fires and smoke.
Some farmers have crop insurance to help them deal with damage, and with the addition of federal disaster assistance, they would get coverage for up to 90% of their losses, according to the legislation. Farmers who choose not to purchase insurance can get up to 70% of losses covered by federal money.
Shellfish farmers may also be eligible for the new disaster assistance. They were also able to seek help under another emergency aid program, and dozens did, according to a federal agriculture ministry official.
East of the Cascades, some of the most significant losses were recorded in the cherry orchards. Much of the fruit was ripening just as temperatures soared in late June, and about 20% of the crop was lost.
“I expect this to be the worst cherry year of my career,” said Sean Gilbert, a Yakima Valley producer.
Most potato growers, despite the intense heat in June, had good harvests. But overall yields fell by around 8%, and some farmers suffered losses of more than 25%. There were also more warped and smaller potatoes, according to Dale Lathim, executive director of Potato Growers of Washington.
“Any help we can get will be appreciated and will help tremendously,” Lathim said.