Local farms may get relief for January crop loss

The St. Johns County local news desk has verified that St. Johns was one of 60 Florida counties to receive a Secretarial Disaster Declaration last week in response to crop losses caused by cold weather and freezing conditions during January 2010.

The United States Department of Agriculture designation makes farm operators eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency; provided eligibility requirements are met.

USDA Secretarial disaster designations must be requested of the Secretary of Agriculture by a governor or the governor’s authorized representative, or by an Indian Tribal Council leader. The Secretarial disaster designation is the most widely used of the four types of disaster declarations; however, its process is the most complicated.

Damages and losses prompting “disaster designations” must be due to a natural disaster; and a minimum 30-percent production loss of at least one crop in the county must have occurred.

Natural disaster conditions include a blizzard, cyclone, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, severe hail, excessive rain, heavy snow, ice and/or high wind, an electrical storm, several weather patterns sustained over a period of time, including low or high temperatures, and related pests, epidemics or fires.

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