ANNAPOLIS, Md.- Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is asking the United States Department of Agriculture for drought aid for 13 of the state's 23 counties.
Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Wednesday that he has formally submitted a letter to the USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting a secretarial disaster designation for the counties on the Eastern Shore and in central and southern Maryland impacted by the severe dry weather and excessive heat during the months of June and July.
"Working with the State Farm Service Agency and the Maryland Department of Agriculture, we estimate that farmers in 13 Maryland counties have lost between 30 and 54 percent of their corn crop," O'Malley said in a statement.
O'Malley said that by requesting this disaster designation, it is hoped to provide some relief to Maryland's farmers who are a vital part of the state's economy.
"We are concerned that Maryland's farmers may have trouble paying their bills due to the drought that has been impacting parts of the State during the past several months," said MDA Secretary Buddy Hance. "We are working closely with both the federal government and local jurisdictions to ensure that Maryland's farmers are protected during this arid growing season."
Maryland experienced a dry, mild winter with rainfall amounts that are well below average. This shortfall has continued into the spring and summer, which officials said is the most critical time for the development of most summer field crops.
Officials noted that while the mid- and lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland appear to be the driest regions, data analysis from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows 76 percent of the state in at least abnormally dry conditions. Fifty-one percent is in a moderate drought while nearly 30 percent is in a severe drought.
The FSA data show that the following Maryland counties are reporting crop losses at more than 30 percent in 2012:
To support Maryland farmers during this time of need, the MDA is offering free testing of grain for the presence of aflatoxins and other toxins, which can be present under drought conditions and are poisonous to livestock.
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