Gov Walker asks federal ag sec to declare disaster

By: AP
By: AP

MADISON — Two federal agricultural disaster declarations for Wisconsin were requested Friday by Gov. Scott Walker to help farmers who sustained losses this spring and summer as a result of extreme weather conditions that affected fruit trees and the maple syrup collection.

"The hot conditions in March followed by a cold, wet April damaged many crops including Door County cherries and northern Wisconsin's maple syrup harvest." Walker said in a press release.

The first request is for the entire state for the anticipated fruit tree losses. The extreme weather this spring impacted Wisconsin's fruit trees including apples and cherries. Unseasonably hot temperatures in March caused many trees and vines to flower early, but frost conditions in April killed many fruit buds. Agriculture officials estimate statewide losses could potentially be as high as 80 percent.

In addition, state agriculture officials report that the maple syrup losses were greater than 30 percent this spring as a result of the early warm weather in March followed by a cold April. Counties listed in the request for maple syrup losses are Barron, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix, Shawano and Vilas.

The requests, if successful, could help Wisconsin farmers qualify for federal assistance.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker has asked federal officials to declare an agricultural disaster in Wisconsin counties that suffered fruit losses during this spring's fluctuating temperatures.

Wisconsin saw a mix of unseasonably warm weather followed by cold from March through May. The governor says cherries and apples flowered early but frost killed many of the buds and initial projections show losses could be as high as 80 percent. Actual losses will be determined later this fall.

Walker sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday asking him to issue a secretarial disaster declaration for all counties that suffered losses. The declaration would make farmers eligible for low-interest loans.

A USDA spokesman says the agency will dispatch field staff to assess damages to help Vilsack make his decision.

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