Farmers May Be Eligible For New Federal Drought Relief

December 11, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

OCEAN CITY — Farmers who suffered losses in last summer's drought will be eligible for more federal disaster relief, an agriculture official announced yesterday.

James Richardson, state executive director of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, said Congress has approved $1.75 billion in additional aid.

Richardson spoke briefly to about 550 farmers here at the annual Maryland Farm Bureau Convention, which ends today.

The money will be distributed nationally, he said, and rules have not been written yet to determine how farmers will qualify to receive payments. To qualify for a similar program in 1989, farmers had to show a 40 percent loss, Richardson said.

Sign-ups for the program will begin around Feb. 1, Richardson said.

"Please keep accurate records," he said. "Please talk to your local office to see what will be available to you."

Another program being handled by ASCS offices will allow dairy farmers to receive refunds for money they paid to support the Commodity Credit Corp. of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Richardson said.

Dairy farmers were charged 5 cents per hundred pounds of milk to support the CCC, he said. If a farmer's 1991 milk production does not exceed his 1990 production, he is eligible for a refund, he said.

The average farmer would receive $500 to $600, he added. Sign-ups for dairy farmers begin Jan. 2.

In other business at the convention, farmers were urged to write to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to express their views on wetlands rules.

The Farm Bureau opposes a proposal to return to a 1989 manual for procedures to regulate wetlands.

The 1989 manual designated thousands of acres as wetlands that previously had not been considered wetlands; much of the land was farmland.

Also yesterday, delegates from across the state, including about 25 from Carroll County, voted on state and federal legislative resolutions.

Most of the resolutions proposed by the Carroll Farm Bureau were accepted, said Gary Brauning II, a Finksburg dairy farmer and president of the county group.

C. William Knill, past Carroll president and currently a state vice president, said the session yesterday was "relatively calm."

Farmers supported a varietyof resolutions, including:

* Deer control. Because the burgeoningdeer population is causing crop damage, farmers urged the state Department of Natural Resources to establish new and longer hunting seasons.

The farmers recommended that the DNR plant grain crops on idlestate farmland and open state lands for hunting, charging a permit fee to cover the cost of planting feed for the deer.

They also suggested that "spotlighting," or shining lights in deers' eyes, should be illegal in all counties.

* Milk marketing. The farmers supporteda proposal to institute fair trade regulations for dairy products tocombat current predatory marketing practices from processors protected by similar legislation in adjacent states.

They also supported the establishment of a milk control advisory board to help regulatoryagencies develop quality-control programs for the state's dairy industry.

* Recycling. Farmers encouraged local governments to developprivate-industry programs for recycling.

Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Robert L. Walker was scheduled to speak at the convention yesterday morning but was not able to return from a business trip to the Soviet Union in time.

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