A flooded crop field in Glastonbury on July 17, 2023 Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Connecticut farmers can begin applying for emergency loans to cover the cost of losses sustained during flooding events in the month of July due to a disaster declaration made this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the governor’s office announced Wednesday.

Farmers in all eight counties will have until May of 2024 to apply for emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency. Farms meeting the agency’s eligibility requirements will receive assistance based on their losses during the July floods and their ability to repay the loans, according to a press release from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office. 

The declaration comes as a result of a federal request by Lamont following severe rainfall in the first half of July, when flooding impacted 27 Connecticut farms, washing out more than 1,500 acres of land and causing nearly $21 million of agricultural damage. 

“The approval of this federal agriculture disaster declaration means that farmers will have access to support so they can continue their incredibly valuable operations,” Lamont said. “I am very appreciative to [USDA Secretary Tom] Vilsack and the Biden administration for listening to our concerns and approving our request. I urge any Connecticut farmer who has been impacted by this summer’s flooding to reach out to the Farm Service Agency as soon as possible.”

The July rains brought a heavy financial burden to farms in the Connecticut River Valley. The flood water rose up out of the river, potentially carrying sewage and toxins and forcing farmers to dispose of all the crops it came in contact with. 

The flooding compounded an already difficult year for the state’s agricultural industry. In July, federal officials approved a separate disaster declaration related to freezing temperatures which caused an “incredible amount of damage” to crops back in May.

“This season has been one of the most challenging in recent memory and I appreciate the USDA for approving Governor Lamont’s request,” Bryan Hurlburt, state agriculture commissioner, said. “Farmers who have experienced losses may be eligible for additional USDA programs, with increased flexibilities, to help offset the losses.”

The state also offers consultation services for farmers, who can access additional resources online or by contacting the Department of Agriculture by phone at 860-713-2500 or by email at agr.disaster@ct.gov, Hurlburt said.