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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) were joined by members of Maryland's Congressional Delegation today in sending a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack supporting Governor O'Malley's request for a Secretarial Disaster Designation for thirteen Maryland counties affected by extreme heat and drought this summer. If awarded, Maryland farmers reporting crop losses at more than 30 percent will become eligible for federal emergency loans, ensuring the state's farming communities hit hardest are able to survive following widespread loses. The letter was signed by Senators Cardin and Mikulski, as well as U.S. Representatives Steny H. Hoyer, Roscoe E. Barlett, Elijah E. Cummings, Chris Van Hollen, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Donna F. Edwards and Andy Harris.

"A combination of excessive drought and extreme heat has delivered a one-two punch to many farmers on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland," the letter reads. "The drought conditions have had a devastating impact on Maryland's corn and vegetable crops. We urge you to act quickly to examine the losses in our state and provide relief to Maryland farmers."

On August 7, 2012, in response to the severe weather conditions, Governor O'Malley requested a Secretarial Disaster Designation for Maryland counties reporting crop losses at more than 30 percent in 2012, which include: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Prince George's, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's, Somerset, Talbot, and Wicomico.

The full text of the delegation's letter of support is as follows:

August 9, 2012

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We strongly support Governor Martin O'Malley's request for a Secretarial Disaster Designation for thirteen Maryland counties. We urge you to act quickly to examine the losses in our state and provide relief to Maryland farmers.

A combination of excessive drought and extreme heat has delivered a one-two punch to many farmers on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland. The drought conditions have had a devastating impact on Maryland's corn and vegetable crops. For example, in Caroline County, as much as seventy percent of a farmer's crop has been ruined by the drought.

According to data collected by the Maryland Farm Service Agency, the following counties have experienced more than thirty percent crop loss: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Prince George's, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's, Somerset, Talbot, and Wicomico. In addition to these counties, we request that you continue to monitor crop data from across our entire state and issue a disaster designation to any that qualify in the coming weeks.

Thank you very much for your prompt attention to our request. We look forward to working with you to provide additional relief to farmers across the country when Congress returns from the August work period.

Sincerely,


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