Friday, July 15, 2011

Monday & Tuesday Widespread Thunderstorms Cause Damage Throughout New Brunswick - Update, By The CBC

Farmers appeal for financial help after storm

Agriculture Minister Mike Olscamp says damage is being assessed

CBC News Posted: Jul 14, 2011 2:03 PM ATPotatoes New Brunswick is calling for provincial and federal government relief after as many as 30 farms in the Upper St. John River Valley were severely damaged by a hail storm.

Joe Brennan, the chairman of Potatoes New Brunswick, said the damage to potato fields is heartbreaking.

Brennan toured farms in Grand Falls, Drummond and Saint Andre and he said farmers in western New Brunswick have lost thousands of acres of crops.

He said federal and provincial government officials also toured the region on Wednesday to assess the damage to the potato fields.

"They're looking at the situation and trying to assess what the damage was and if it fits the criteria for some of these general support programs," he said.

Brennan estimates 30 farms were damaged, affecting thousands of acres of soy, oats, barley and potato crops.

"Potatoes would have the leaves just beat off the plants and, just the stalks standing up and at the end of the row you'd see piles of leaves that washed down the rows and left in the ditch," he said.

Brennan said it will likely take weeks before farmers know if any financial assistance will come from the provincial and federal governments.

He said he's hopeful there will be financial help for affected farmers.

Agriculture Minister Mike Olscamp said his department will do what it can to help farmers in the Upper St. John River Valley.

Olscamp said a representative from his department is in the community and is keeping him updated.

"We've had staff on site since early [Wednesday] who are working with the farmers in the process of assessing the damage," he said.

Olscamp said the provincial and federal governments have a number of joint programs that may provide aide to farmers who qualify.

He said it will take two or three weeks to assess the damage.