Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a letter to Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, has formally issued a Secretarial Agricultural Disaster Designation for all Rhode Island counties for damage incurred during Tropical Storm Irene.
Governor Chafee had requested the declaration in a September 6 letter to Secretary Vilsack.
"The Department of Agriculture has reviewed the Loss Assessment Reports and has determined that there were sufficient production losses in all five Rhode Island counties to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation," Secretary Vilsack said in his letter to the Governor. "Therefore, I am designating the entire State of Rhode Island as a primary natural disaster area due to losses caused by Tropical Storm Irene."
"I saw first-hand the considerable damage Tropical Storm Irene brought to Rhode Island's agricultural sector," Governor Chafee said. "I am grateful to Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the seriousness of this storm for Rhode Island farm operators and for making valuable resources available to them."
The Secretary's designation will make farm operators in all Rhode Island counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program.
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.