June 26, 2011 in City, Idaho

Latah County seeks federal disaster aid

Mcclatchy
 

Latah County has been added to a list of local Idaho governments requesting federal aid for thousands of acres of farmland swamped by adverse spring weather.

County commissioners signed a crop disaster declaration Wednesday that will be sent to Gov. Butch Otter and then to the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

A cold, wet spring prevented nearly 19,000 acres of farmland from being planted with wheat, barley, peas, lentils and chickpeas, according to a letter to county commissioners from Jim Knecht, executive director for Latah County’s USDA Emergency Board.

The board requested the declaration be drafted after 237 farms reported their inability to seed, which Knecht’s letter states resulted in an estimated loss of nearly $7 million.

The March to May 30-year historical average for precipitation in Moscow is around 7 inches, but this year’s three-month period was recorded at 163 percent of what is normally expected, the letter states.

The greatest estimated losses were from spring wheat and lentils, at $4.4 million and $1.1 million, respectively.

Nine Idaho counties have already made their own disaster declaration requests, and Otter in late May issued a statewide disaster declaration over flooding in the northern and southeastern parts of the state.

If the secretary of agriculture accepts the declarations, farmers will be able to request low-interest emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency, as well as relief through federal disaster programs under the USDA.


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