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As Maryland farmers grapple with new flooding, USDA approves disaster designation for spring rains

As Maryland farmers endure another round of flooding brought forth by this week’s rain, they received word Wednesday that federal assistance will be available to make up for crops lost during the heavy precipitation this spring.

The USDA has approved a disaster declaration for 11 counties on the Eastern Shore and in Central Maryland — Caroline, Carroll, Dorchester, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester.

Gov. Larry Hogan had requested the declaration to make up for crop losses when heavy rain fell early in this year’s growing season.

The designation makes farmers eligible for low-interest loans of up to $500,000 to repair or replace damaged property or cover expenses.

More than 8 inches of rain fell at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in May, twice the normal precipitation for the month. Almost 5 inches fell in June, a couple of inches more than normal.

“This funding will provide much-needed assistance and relief to Maryland’s farmers and bolster our vital agricultural sector, and we are pleased that our federal partners have granted our request,” Hogan said in a statement.

Farmers were dealing with the beginnings of a drought by the middle of July, with only a few hundredths of precipitation in nearly a three-week period at BWI.

But now they are praying for the rain to stop to prevent further crop losses. There has been 15 inches of rain at BWI over the past 10 days, enough to make this July the second-wettest single month on record at BWI.

Officials say it is too early to determine impacts of the latest bout of flooding on farms.

sdance@baltsun.com

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