Disaster declaration being sought for central, south AL farmers

Published: Jun. 23, 2017 at 3:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2017 at 9:17 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is seeking a USDA disaster declaration for central and south Alabama counties on behalf of farmers who "were already in dire need of relief" after weeks of rainfall damaged their crops. Tropical Storm Cindy didn't help.

This is something Elmore County Farmer Joe Lambrecht thinks would be a big help.

"This has been a double whammy with all the rain ahead of time and here comes Cindy who brings more. This is not a hobby, this is how we make a living," said Joe Lambrecht, owner of Oakview Farms.

Farmers were already in a bad spot with saturated fields before Cindy blew in from the coast. The latest system dropped massive amounts of rain, and the localized flooding created "significant crop loss" according to the agriculture department.

"The potential adverse impact from Tropical Storm Cindy will likely ruin crops that are already planted while at the same time create conditions where other crops cannot be planted and harvested in a timely fashion," said Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture John McMillan. "Farmers have already spent money on seeds and fertilizer and now they cannot be fully utilized. This is a financial hardship on our farmers."

Some of the affected crops include cotton, corn, hay, peanuts, soybeans, specialty crops and wheat.

A USDA disaster declaration would make farmers in the designated counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from USDA FSA.

"Farmers need to be patient as the secretarial designation process moves along," McMillan said.

Gov. Kay Ivey formally issued a request for disaster assistance Friday morning.

"Farmers are vital not only to the economy of Alabama but also the nation as a whole. Tropical Storm Cindy inundated our farm lands with water causing damage to crops. Our farmers need assistance in order to keep our economy and food production systems in balance," Ivey said.

The governor also requested a USDA assessment of affected counties so that an agricultural disaster declaration may be determined.

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