The federal government says it has some money for Maryland farmers hurt by this summer's drought, but it needs them to break away from their harvesting chores long enough to fill out the paperwork.
James C. Richardson, head of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service office in Columbia that administers the U.S. Department of Agriculture's programs in the state, says that hundreds of farmers statewide are eligible to participate in the USDA's emergency feed program as a result of portions of Maryland being declared drought disaster areas.
Mr. Richardson said that the relief can be used by farmers to buy feed grain for livestock. The size of the checks will vary depending on the amount of drought damage and size of a farmer's livestock herd.
He said that there are a large number of eligible farmers who have not applied.
In every county except Caroline, Cecil, Wicomico and Worcester, which don't qualify for drought disaster relief, farmers who can show that they have lost 40 percent of their crops may apply for the emergency feed grant. Mr. Richardson said that the program is designed to "help keep the animals alive," not to fatten up beef cattle or boost the milk production of dairy cows.
Mr. Richardson encouraged farmers to file their applications with the ASCS office in their counties as soon as possible. He said the program covers a feeding period that ends April 30, 1992.
"Every day that a farmer delays his application," he said, "is one less day that he can collect feed assistance. If they wait until December, they can only collect it for four months. If they file now, they can collect for seven months."
The deadline for filing is Dec. 31.