Barnstable County Among Several Designated as Natural Disaster Areas by USDA

A green frog is seen relaxing on a bed of bright red cranberries as workers in the background prepare to start harvesting the bog of red berries in Carver, Mass., Sept. 28, 1990. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

 (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON – Barnstable, Plymouth and Bristol Counties were recently designated as primary natural disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The counties were among 11 in the state to receive the designation due to crop losses, particularly of fruit trees, caused by a frost and freeze between February and May.

Farms in the designated counties are eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, including emergency loans.

Dukes and Nantucket counties were designated as contiguous natural disaster areas. The other counties listed as primary areas are Berkshire, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk and Worcester.

The same 11 counties have also become eligible for the USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program as a result of the ongoing drought. The program provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses on pasture land.

Last week the National Drought Monitor elevated the drought classification to extreme for all of Plymouth County and across the Cape Cod Canal into areas of Bourne on the Upper Cape.

“This year’s weather has been a great challenge to Massachusetts farmers; first with the winter freeze and now with a severe drought,” said Matthew Beaton, the state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary, in a statement. “Despite that, our farmers have done a remarkable job at getting high-quality, nutritious food to market.”

Farmers in the designated counties are asked to contact their local FSA county offices for more information on the available programs.

The Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund launched earlier this month and has the capacity to provide up to $1 million in micro-loans to family farms and other small businesses affected by the ongoing drought conditions.

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