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Yarmuth Announces Federal Disaster Assistance for KY Farmers

Assistance Comes Following the Congressman’s Call for Bush to Take Action

(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3), announced that 118 of Kentucky’s 120 counties—including Jefferson County— have received “natural disaster designation” due to “extremely cold temperatures” in early April.  The announcement comes just weeks after Congressman Yarmuth called on President Bush to provide disaster assistance for Kentucky’s struggling farmers.  

“I am very pleased to see the government coming to the aid of these hard working Americans whose livelihoods were put in jeopardy due to extreme weather conditions,” Yarmuth said.  “We have depended on them for crops and the boost they provide to the economy, and this shows they can depend on us as well.”

Leslie and McCreary Counties were not designated primary disaster areas, but are contiguous with counties that have received the designation, and farm operators in those counties will also be eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Services Agency.  Eligible farmers can borrow as much as 100 percent of their actual production or physical losses, not exceeding $500,000, at an annual interest rate of 3.75 percent.

“I was really impressed that Congressman Yarmuth—not representing a traditional, agricultural district— understood how important this relief is for farmers, and that he took action on behalf of Kentucky farmers,” said Joe Cain, Director of National Affairs for Kentucky Farm Bureau.  “It shows he listens to people.”

Congressman Yarmuth’s letter to the President is below.

May 1, 2007

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the Third Congressional District of Kentucky, I am writing to request disaster assistance for farmers affected by recent freezing temperatures.

As you may know, many crops in Kentucky were damaged by below average temperatures from April 5-10, 2007.  The average temperature at this time was 25 degrees.  Because Kentucky experienced unseasonably warm weather in February and March, crops had reached a critical point in their development when temperatures dropped.

Specialists at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture have cited significant damage to small grains, corn, and fruit, including peaches, grapes, apples, pears, and nectarines.  Early estimates include 80-90 percent loss of wheat, 75-85 percent loss of apples, 50-60 percent loss of grapes, and 100 percent loss of peaches, pears, plums, cherries, and pecans.  Specialists also projected that the first cutting of alfalfa and hay will be lost and almost 100,000 acres of corn will require replanting.

My district contains over 25,000 acres of cropland and has more than $8 million of crop cash receipts.  One farmer happens to be the official mint supplier for Churchill Downs.  As the Kentucky Derby approaches, Churchill Downs expects to sell more than 80,000 mint juleps, using 2,200 pounds of mint.  While the farmer will be able to meet the demands for this internationally renowned sporting event, his other sales will be drastically reduced.  He estimates the freezing temperatures caused 50 percent loss to his mint crop and 25 percent loss to his annual income.

Another farmer from my district lost a significant amount of his wheat and the entire first cutting of his alfalfa.  He relies heavily on hay, which is now of poor quality and no longer marketable.  From this freeze, which he compared to a serious drought, he estimates he has lost between 40 and 45 percent of his annual crop yield.
Thousands of farmers across the state will also sustain great damage.  The Kentucky Department of Agriculture estimates winter wheat producers could lose up to $63 million.  In the coming weeks and months, my district will see a ripple effect as higher prices impact distributors and consumers alike.  I am, therefore, greatly concerned for the welfare of my constituents and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and I urge you to provide federal disaster assistance to our state.

Thank you for your consideration, and I will await your response.  Please feel free to contact me if I may be of further assistance in this critically important matter.


John A. Yarmuth
Member of Congress