Virgin Islands Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated St. Croix a primary disaster area, allowing farmers to now apply for aid through the Farm Service Agency.
“We are pleased to announce that the USDA has designated St. Croix a disaster area. Our office has been working closely with local farmers and with the FSA in hopes of achieving this end. A disaster designation puts our local farmers a step closer to relief, allowing them to apply for emergency loans through FSA,” Plaskett said
The designation from USDA comes amid a months-long drought that has caused St. Croix farmers to suffer tremendous losses in production and lose thousands of dollars worth of livestock and crops.
After receiving letters from local farmers asking for federal drought relief, Congresswoman Plaskett contacted representatives from both the local and district offices of the Farm Service Agency to pursue aid for the farmers and to arrange for them to visit the drought-stricken farms.
After visiting two local farms and meeting with local farmers and stakeholders, the FSA representative from the Florida district office completed a Loss Assessment Report and recommended that a disaster declaration is made.
According to the USDA, a secretarialdisasterdesignationmakesfarmoperatorsinprimarycountiesandthosecounties contiguoustosuchprimarycountieseligibletobeconsideredforcertainassistancefromFSA, providedeligibilityrequirementsaremet.
“It is our hope that this is a first step in a closer collaboration between local farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will grow our agricultural base and create a vibrant farming community,” Plaskett said.