By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — With farmers coping with the effects of drought, Donna Juneau of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency encourages those adversely affected by the dry conditions to to contact her agency, which administers a program that may assist them.
Juneau said Monday that she is fielding a growing number of calls.
"I would encourage any farmers that have been impacted by the drought to contact their local Farm Service Agency County Office," she said. "We would very much like to talk to them, learn how they have been impacted by the drought, and provide them with information about our programs."
Juneau said that crop insurance is provided by a sister agency — the Risk Management Agency — but requires farmers to enroll before the growing season begins. In New Hampshire, crop insurance applies to a limited number of crops — applies, field corn, sweet corn and forage, both alfalfa and alfalfa mixes.
All other crops fall under the Farm Service Agency's Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance for losses caused by drought and other natural disasters. These crops include forage or hay, perennial crops (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries), fall seeded crops like garlic and spring seeded crops (carrots, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins).
Juneau stressed that farmers must enroll in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program in advance of the growing season. For example, those seeking to ensure their forage crop must enroll before Sept. 30 and those insuring their spring seeded annual crops must enroll by March 15.
However, Juneau emphasized there are other forms assistance apart from crop insurance programs. The counties suffering from drought have applied for approval to introduce the Emergency Conservation Program, which provides financial assistance to the owners of orchards, vineyards and livestock to supply water to irrigate crops and water animals. In addition, the Tree Assistance Program provides funds for orchards and nurseries to replace inventory lost to natural disaster. Finally, the Emergency Loan Program proves financing to help farmers recover from lost production caused by drought.
Juneau, who is the county executive director of the Farm Service Agency for Merrimack, Belknap and Hillsborough counties urged anyone with questions to contact her office at 223-6003.
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