Oregon Delegation Asks Ag Secretary for Disaster Declaration for Oregon Nurseries
Delegation joins Governor in Request to Aid Industry after Disastrous Winter Weather
Washington, DC— Listening to the concerns of Oregon's nursery industry, which is currently facing steep production losses in the wake of this winter's extreme weather, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, Peter DeFazio, David Wu, and Greg Walden, today asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to grant Oregon Governor Kulongoski's request for a disaster declaration. Governors request such declarations after examining damage from a natural or manmade disaster and determining that the expenses to recover government, business, and individual property are deemed beyond the state and local government's recovery capabilities. Such a declaration would make counties eligible for federal assistance. The counties included in the request are Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Marion, Polk, Linn, Benton, Lane, Douglas, Jackson and adjoining counties.
"To date, nursery growers have reported more than $11 million in damage to greenhouse structures and between $7 million to $20 million in crop damage," wrote the delegation. "… While the full extent of the crop damage is not yet known, we urge you to grant Governor Kulongoski's request as soon as possible so that Oregon's producers will have the assistance they need to literally weather the storm."
The full text of the delegation's letter follows:
February 6, 2009
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Mr. Secretary,
We are writing in support of Governor Ted Kulongoski's request for a Secretarial disaster declaration for the following Oregon counties: Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Marion, Polk, Linn, Benton, Lane, Douglas and Jackson. In addition, we support declarations for adjoining counties, as authorized.
The extreme frigid temperatures, snow, and freezing rain that immobilized Oregon from December 14 through December 26, 2008, followed by the snow melt-off and excessive rain that flooded parts of Oregon through January 2, 2009, substantially crippled Oregon's largest agricultural enterprise: it's nursery industry. The storms of December and January collapsed greenhouses, damaging and destroying irrigation equipment and killing nursery crops growing inside. Physical damage to hazelnut orchards has also been documented. To date, nursery growers have reported more than $11 million in damage to greenhouse structures and between $7 million to $20 million in crop damage. These numbers do not reflect the extent of the damage that these storms will have on Oregon's nursery and greenhouse industries as the full accounting of production losses will not be evident until spring.
As previously stated, the nursery industry plays a significant role in Oregon's economy. This industry has been hit hard and needs help getting back on its feet. While the full extent of crop damage is not yet known, we urge you to grant Governor Kulongoski's request as soon as possible so that Oregon's producers will have the assistance they need to literally weather this storm.
We appreciate the Farm Service Agency's swift action to grant an Administrative emergency declaration and hope that you will act similarly to make available any additional assistance to our producers.
Senator Ron Wyden Senator Jeff Merkley
Congressman Earl Blumenauer Congressman Kurt Schrader
Congressman Peter DeFazio Congressman David Wu
Congressman Greg Walden