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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

Kerry, Massachusetts Congressional Delegation Urge Relief for Farmers

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and the Massachusetts delegation today requested Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issue a major disaster declaration for much of the Commonwealth hit hard by this summer's severe weather. Recent harsh weather conditions from flooding to hail have led to significant crop loss and damage.

"Abnormally wet and cool weather conditions have significantly affected the growing conditions and production levels of major agriculture crops in many Massachusetts counties," the delegation wrote in a letter to the Secretary. "We are writing to request the Department of Agriculture issue a disaster declaration in Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester counties in Massachusetts due to agricultural production losses suffered because of this summer's cool and rainy weather conditions."

More than 80 percent of the farms today in Massachusetts are family-owned. Massachusetts is also the top agricultural producer in New England, supplying 40 percent of New England's total agriculture products. Agricultural production represented $489 million of Massachusetts' economy in 2007.

The full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Thomas Vilsack
Secretary
United States Department of Agriculture
Room 200A, Administration Building
12th Street & Jefferson Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We are writing to request the Department of Agriculture issue a disaster declaration in Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester counties in Massachusetts due to agricultural production losses suffered because of this summer's cool and rainy weather conditions.

Beginning in May 2009 and continuing into September, abnormally wet and cool weather conditions have significantly affected the growing conditions and production levels of major agriculture crops in many Massachusetts counties. According to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Massachusetts rainfall was at 148 percent above normal in June. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), June 2009 was the sixth coolest June on record in both Boston and Worcester, and likely the second cloudiest June on record since 1885, based on sunshine records kept at Blue Hills Observatory. The NWS weather stations throughout Massachusetts reported July rainfall figures in excess of 200 percent with corresponding below normal temperatures.

Due to these weather conditions, most vegetable crops are suffering. Yellow corn production has suffered due to prevented planning and poor growing conditions. Strawberries suffered due to wet cool conditions which increased rot and decreased yield. Weather related blight is causing significant damage on potato and tomato crops.

As a result of production losses due to excessive moisture, flooding, hail and temperatures resulting in weather related blight, we urge you to issue a disaster declaration for the counties of Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Sincerely,

John F. Kerry Edward J. Markey
U.S. Senate U.S. House of Representatives

Barney Frank Richard E. Neal
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives

Niki Tsongas John F. Tierney
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives

John W. Olver William Delahunt
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives

James P. McGovern Michael E. Capuano
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives

Stephen F. Lynch
U.S. House of Representatives


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