Md. drought aid may be about $12 million

December 21, 1991|By Ted Shelsby

Maryland farmers could receive about $12 million in drought disaster payments, an official of the Department of Agriculture said yesterday.

The funds will be made available to the state's farmers who suffered major crop losses during last summer's drought, which affected prime growing areas, said James C. Richardson, head of the USDA's administrative office for Maryland.

The newly appropriated funds are in addition to about $3 million in emergency feed money to be paid to farmers whose grain dried up last summer. That feed money will help farmers get their herds through the winter.

While the drought disaster checks from the federal government will be of some help, the payments will cover only a small percentage of the estimated $75 million to $100 million in crop damage caused by the summer drought.

Unlike past drought disaster programs, farmers may apply for payments to help offset losses that occurred in 1990 or 1991, Mr. Richardson said. This could be a boon to state peach and apple growers whose harvest was severely damaged by a late spring frost in 1990.

This year the federal government has imposed a $1 billion limit on emergency drought payments for the entire country. If farm losses exceed that level, as they are expected to, each farmer's check will be calculated on a percentage basis, Mr. Richardson explained.

He said the application process for drought assistance will begin in February and the farmers' applications should be in their regional Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service office by early April.

Mr. Richardson said the applications will be processed at an ASCS office in Kansas City, Mo., and checks should be in the mail by the end of April.

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