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The federal delegation representing Snohomish County called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare a Secretarial Disaster Designation for Snohomish County to assist farmers who have been affected by the State Route 530 mudslide.

In a letter sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Jim McDermott (WA-07), strongly supported the request made to USDA by Governor Inslee. The designation would provide the county with disaster assistance to help local farmers who have experienced crop and livestock losses caused by the landslide and the flooding from the blocking of the Stillaguamish River. The area has dairies, sheep farms, other livestock and crops including hay, Christmas trees and pasture land.

“Washington state is home to a strong agriculture economy, with farmers, growers and agriculture businesses located throughout our state. Snohomish County is no exception to that rule,” the delegation wrote. “While local communities and state agencies have responded admirably, a disaster of this magnitude requires long-term federal assistance to help in the response and recovery effort. A Secretarial Disaster Designation will provide farmers, residents, and businesses in Snohomish County with access to low-interest loans and other important disaster assistance opportunities.”

A Secretarial Disaster Designation would make farmers in Snohomish County affected by the mudslide eligible to apply for low-interest loans and additional federal assistance through USDA.

View the letter HERE.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We write to urge you to approve the Secretarial Disaster Designation for Snohomish County requested by Washington Governor Jay Inslee on April 10, 2014.

As you know, on Saturday, March 22, 2014, a massive landslide near Oso, Washington, in Snohomish County, destroyed homes, damaged public infrastructure, and blocked the Stillaguamish River. More than 35 people have lost their lives, 21 have been injured, and 10 are still unaccounted for and presumed to be in the disaster area. State Route 530, the primary transportation artery between Arlington and the small communities of Oso and Darrington to the east, has been closed indefinitely due to the landslide.  

Washington state is home to a strong agriculture economy, with farmers, growers and agriculture businesses located throughout our state. Snohomish County is no exception to that rule. Due to the extreme devastation, the full extent of agricultural losses is unknown at this time. However, crops known to be grown in the affected region are hay, Christmas trees, and pasture lands. Livestock, including dairies and sheep farms, are also located in the disaster area.

We are enormously proud of the more than 730 first responders and search and rescue personnel from multiple local and state agencies who have responded heroically to this tragedy. We also deeply appreciate the commitment of the many citizen volunteers, charities, businesses, and local elected officials who have risen to serve their neighbors during this very difficult time.

While local communities and state agencies have responded admirably, a disaster of this magnitude requires long-term federal assistance to help in the response and recovery effort. A Secretarial Disaster Designation will provide farmers, residents, and businesses in Snohomish County with access to low-interest loans and other important disaster assistance opportunities. We therefore urge you to approve a Secretarial Disaster Designation as requested by Governor Inslee.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.