The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration announced today that both departments will be offering assistance and resources to farmers who have been impacted by intense flooding as a result of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.
The assistance will specifically target flood-damaged crops and will provide compensation to farmers who are unable to bring their crops to market due to this damage. Floodwaters are especially harmful to crops as they can be a health hazard to those who consume them. Floodwaters often bring contact with animal waste, sewage and other pathogens and contaminants.
Michael Scuse, acting under-secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, commented on the assistance announced by the USDA and FDA: "We are working closely with FDA to protect people and livestock from damaged crops, while not penalizing the farmer whose crops are affected. I want to assure insured farmers that they are covered under the federal crop insurance program for crops not harvested due to flood damage. America's farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation's economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow and out-compete the rest of the world."
FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael R. Taylor also spoke about the storm damages to farms on the East Coast and the available aid: "We empathize with the farmers who are dealing with the loss of crops due to recent flooding. We all share the goal of protecting the food supply. We are working directly with USDA on damage response and will consult with them on assistance for farmers following our guidance to keep damaged crops out of the food supply."
The USDA has also recently announced other types of aid for farmers and agriculture affected by the storms. According to the World Dairy Diary, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pledged aid for dairy farms hit hard by Irene and Lee and flooding afterward, especially since three of the top 10 dairy states were impacted. Vilsack has already pledged immediate aid of $15 million to New York dairy farms.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Irene hit the East Coast hard in late August and estimates show that the damage could cost insurers up to $5.5 billion. Delmarva Now reported Lee also caused a significant amount of destruction in the Northeast when it hit late last week. Lee caused large amounts of flooding, especially in Pennsylvania where there were evacuations after heavy rains.
The USDA is reminding farmers and ranchers to contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Centers to report damages and losses and find further information on available aid.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.