News Releases

Murray Urges Agriculture Secretary to Designate Storm-Battered Spokane & Whitman Counties a Disaster Area

Aug 25 2004

In Letter, Murray Urges Quick Review & Approval; Senator Says, "This freak storm delivered a knockout punch for many families just on the eve of harvest."

Murray's letter to Crop Insurance Administrator

(Spokane, WA) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, urging the Secretary to designate storm-battered Spokane and Whitman counties as Secretarial Disaster counties, which Governor Gary Locke has requested.

On August 2nd, unseasonably strong thunderstorms, wind, rain and hail battered farms in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, inflicting serious damage just before harvest time.

"For years, our farm families have been hit hard by low prices, foreign dumping, drought and closed foreign markets, but this freak storm delivered a knockout punch for many families just on the eve of harvest," Murray said. "I've heard farmers saw entire fields of ripe crops destroyed by this fierce storm. One pea grower said this was the most damaging storm in the 100 years his family has farmed in Whitman County."

NOTE: For details on Murray's work to help farmers and growers recover from natural disasters, please see the Agriculture section of our website. (Scroll down to the section titled: "Working to Pass Ad Hoc Natural Disaster Assistance")

More information on the USDA Secretarial disaster designation

The Text of Senator Murray's Letter Follows:

August 25, 2004

The Honorable Ann Veneman
United States Department of Agriculture
Administration Building, Room 100-A
Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Veneman:

On August 2, 2004 a severe thunderstorm struck two counties in Washington State. The resultant high winds and hail severely damaged the legume, oil seed, and grain crops in Spokane and Whitman Counties located in eastern Washington.

I am writing to urge you to declare a Secretarial Disaster Designation for Spokane and Whitman Counties in Washington State as requested by Governor Gary Locke. Your declaration of an agricultural disaster designation will provide the producers in these counties with sorely needed low-interest loans.

I look forward to your prompt response and to working with you to ensure that producers who have been affected by these untimely natural disasters have access to the resources they need in a timely fashion. Please direct any questions and your response to my Eastern Washington Director, Judy Olson in my Spokane, Washington office at (509) 624-9515.


Patty Murray
United States Senator