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Locke Requests Disaster Help For 13 Washington Counties

Governor requests help for 13 counties damaged by June's storms

In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Gov. Gary Locke last week requested the federal government designate 13 Washington counties agricultural disaster areas.

Locke made the request following a U.S. Farm Service Agency survey which found that June's severe storms caused heavy crop damage, especially to such fruit crops as cherries, peaches, apricots, apples and pears.

The following is the FSA survey of the June 26 and June 27 storm damage. Each county is estimating losses of 30 percent or greater for each crop listed.

Adams -- onions, potatoes, wheat, cherries, dry beans, dry peas, barley, canola

Benton -- hops, apples, pears, grapes

Chelan -- cherries

Clark -- strawberries, raspberries

Columbia -- wheat, barley

Douglas -- cherries

Franklin -- apples, cherries, wheat, corn, potatoes, grass seed

Grant -- apples, soft fruit, beans, alfalfa

King -- vegetable row crops

Klickitat -- cherries

Pierce -- lettuce, strawberries, rhubarb

Walla Walla -- wheat, grass seed, onion, barley

Yakima -- alfalfa, apples, apricots, barley, beans, cherries, corn, cucumbers and pickles, grapes, hops, mint, nectarines, nursery crops, oats, onions, peaches, pears, peas, peppers, plums and prunes, potatoes, silage and hay, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, wheat

The designation would provide emergency low-interest Farm Service Agency loans, as well as livestock assistance to cover production and farm property losses to farmers and ranchers in the designated counties. The designation also could provide economic injury loans to farmers and ranchers through the U.S. Small Business Administration and would extend to counties contiguous to the declared counties.

"We hope the federal Department of Agriculture can approve these requests as quickly as possible so emergency aid can be made available soon for Washington farmers who have suffered major crop losses due to the disastrous June 26 and June 27 storms," Locke said.

Earlier this week the governor visited with farmers in the Zillah-area of Yakima County to witness crop damage and express his concern over the devastating agricultural losses.

In addition to emergency loan assistance from the federal government, the governor is also exploring various options to provide assistance to growers and workers who suffered economic loss as a result of the storm.

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