Members of Skagit County’s congressional delegation are among a bipartisan group of lawmakers requesting more aid for farmers who suffered crop loss and damage following the heat wave that battered the Pacific Northwest in late June.
In a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, 44 members of Congress requested the U.S. Department of Agriculture explore additional options to help farmers and ranchers impacted by excessive heat.
Temperatures reached 120 degrees in some areas in June, and more extreme temperatures are expected to hit Western states late this week, with drought conditions lasting through October, lawmakers wrote in their letter.
“Due to the severity of the ongoing situation, we believe that additional federal assistance will be needed beyond what can be offered through current USDA drought relief programs,” the letter states.
U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen, who represent parts of Skagit County, signed the letter.
In Skagit County, berries and apples were some of the crops damaged during June’s heat wave, growers have said. The extreme temperatures are also a concern for potatoes, the county’s most valuable crop, and could impact yields at harvest time.
Throughout the Pacific Northwest, growers have also reported impacts to crops from cherries to hops to wine grapes to cattle, the letter states. Shellfish farms also reported that many of their clams, oysters and mussels did not survive the heat wave.
“As producers continue to assess losses over the next 18 months, it is likely that the total impact of the heat wave will be much higher than current estimates,” lawmakers wrote in their letter.
The letter states that additional relief is needed for “counties not covered by the drought designations, experienced losses not covered by drought assistance programs, or both.”