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Emergency loans sought for farmers in Fulton, 22 other counties

January 17, 2006

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Gov. Edward G. Rendell urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week to approve emergency loan assistance for Pennsylvania farmers who suffered more than $128 million in drought-related crop damage last summer and fall.

Due to weather conditions, crops like corn, soybeans, alfalfa and hay were affected.

"Agriculture is Pennsylvania's leading industry," Rendell said in a press release. "We need to make sure farmers have the assistance they need to recover from the drought."

Rendell wrote to USDA Secretary Mike Johanns requesting the emergency assistance.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, farms in Fulton County and 22 other counties in the state suffered crop damage last year and are eligible for emergency loan assistance.

"These emergency loans will help farmers recover from damages and enable them to begin planning for the next crop season," Rendell said.

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Other than Fulton, the counties eligible for assistance are Armstrong, Bedford, Bradford, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, McKean, Pike, Potter, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Washington and Wayne.

Although the state Department of Environmental Protection did not declare an official drought last summer or fall, these counties are eligible to qualify for the federal assistance if they have sustained a crop loss of 30 percent or more due to dry weather conditions.

According to his press release, Rendell told Johanns that the Pennsylvania State Emergency Board for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency met in November and reviewed damage assessment reports.

Rendell said the board projected that 23 counties had one or more major crops with a 30 percent or greater loss. In all, he said, the estimated loss totaled $128.5 million.

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