PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Thursday, August 4, 2011

Capps Announces USDA Approval of “Disaster Designation” for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties

Wine Grape Growers in May be Eligible for Emergency Funding

Today Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined a primary disaster designation for San Luis Obispo County due to losses caused by freezing temperatures that occurred on April 8th and 9th, 2011.

In addition to San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara was also designated as a contiguous disaster county.

“The USDA disaster designation is the right decision for wine grape growers on the Central Coast and for one of our region’s most important industries,” said Capps. “Growers deserve a safety net that supports them when severe weather strikes. I encourage affected growers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties to contact their local Farm Service Agency office as soon as possible so that they can be eligible to receive necessary assistance.”

According to the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), the San Luis Obispo County Agricultural Commissioner reported losses to the wine grape harvest at more than 32 percent, and estimates current economic losses at more than $47 million.

With this disaster designation, farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties are eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for emergency loans (EM) as well as the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program.

Farmers in the counties have eight months from the date of disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. EM assistance can be used to restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation, and refinance certain debts. The SURE program, approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, which Capps helped pass into law, provides financial assistance for crop production and or quality losses due to a natural disaster.

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