Help available for tornado-damaged farms

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ISLE OF WIGHT—The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has indicated assistance may be available for farmers who experienced damage or poultry/livestock loss due to the severe weather in late April.

“I have spoken this week with farmers from different parts of Virginia who suffered significant losses because of the recent tornadoes and other severe weather events,” said Matthew Lohr, commissioner for the agency. “I encourage farmers with such losses to contact their local Farm Service Agency office about the availability of federal assistance programs.”

FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs and each one offers different benefits, Lohr said.

Glenn Pierce, executive director for Isle of Wight County’s FSA office in Smithfield, said Monday preliminary reports showed that one cow and a calf were lost when a tornado left a 20-mile path of destruction in the county on April 16. The tornado had wind gusts of 111 to 135 mph.

“I think there was some structure damage, like a drying shed and grain bins, and a couple of shops above buildings,” Pierce said. “There may have been a degree of damage in one or two wheat fields. It wasn’t a whole lot, just kind of spotty.”

Debris also was left in some fields, he said.

Lohr suggested farmers contact their local FSA office for assistance options. “As a lifelong farmer, I know first-hand how devastating events like this can be,” he said. “In times like these that are already tough, I want to help our farmers take advantage of every resource out there to make as quick a recovery as possible.”