Alabama Gov. Bob Riley on Monday asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to declare Alabama a federal agriculture disaster area due to the devastation brought by Hurricane Ivan.
An agriculture disaster declaration would allow farmers to apply for low-interest loans through the federal government and receive other types of assistance, such as emergency haying and grazing payments.
“Agriculture is Alabama’s number one employer,” Gov. Riley said. “It is absolutely critical that we provide affected farmers with the help they need. It is painfully clear that Alabama’s farmers all over the state have suffered significant losses due to the hurricane.”
The disaster declaration request is a critical first step in providing some relief to the state’s agriculture industry.
On Thursday, President Bush approved Gov. Riley’s request for a federal disaster declaration in 32 Alabama counties. This approval by the President means that eligible hurricane victims and local governments in these areas will be able to receive federal funding and assistance to recover.
Gov. Riley said he expects the number of Alabama counties under the disaster declaration to increase as damage estimates are completed.
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