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The Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors met last Monday evening with Extension Agent Stephanie Romelczyk and the brief exchange resulted in adoption of a resolution that asks Virginia’s governor to designate the jurisdiction as a drought disaster area.

The Aug. 13 action had been in the works for nearly a month, as rainfall data and estimates of crop damage were gathered and evaluated. Romelczyk told the Supervisors that rainfall is nearly eight inches below normal and the outlook for the county’s farmers is becoming increasingly dire.

“Things aren’t looking good,” the Agricultural Extension Agent stated.

She then explained that the corn crop has been hit the worst by the hot and dry conditions. The crop’s production will likely be diminished no less than 50 percent, but soybeans may still have an opportunity to develop if the dry conditions are reversed.

Romelczyk noted the hot, dry season’s adverse impact on pastures and commercial hay production.

“The livestock people will soon be slaughtering,” she warned.

Working farmer and Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Woody Hynson weighed in after hearing the Extension Agent’s opening remarks.

“It’s bad,” Hynson commented.

“You can look around and see the damage. What worries me is when there is nothing green except the [soy]beans, you just know that every worm, bug and insect is going to end up in those beans.

“Things aren’t looking good, but I guess we’ll get through it. America always has been able to feed itself, and thank goodness for that.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Agriculture Committee (FAC) for Westmoreland County delivered the drought determination that resulted in the Supervisors’ Aug. 13 action.

The correspondence which Romelczyk addressed to Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Risavi on Aug. 8 advised of the FAC determination that “drought conditions in Westmoreland County have severely affected farmers and agribusinesses due to the fact that rainfall during the 2012 growing season has been considerably less than normal.

“Temperatures from June 1 through August 8 were consistently above normal.

“Yields of the principal crops produced in Westmnoreland County, including corn, soybean, pasture, and hay, have been reduced by 30 to 50 percent.

“These conditions of drought have produced and will continue to produce economic hardship in the agricultural community. Based on these facts, the FAC recommends to the Board of Supervisors that the County Administrator file a request with the Governor of Virginia that Westmoreland County be designated as a drought disaster area.”

The adopted resolution officially delivers the request to Virginia’s governor that the county “be designated as a drought disaster area.”

It acknowledges that the jurisdiction has received “considerably less rainfall than normal while experiencing record high temperatures.”

“Over 44,721 acres of cropland in the County of Westmoreland have been adversely affected and the yields of the principal crops produced in the County of Westmoreland, including corn, soybean, pasture, and hay have been reduced by well over fifty percent.”

“These conditions of drought have produced and will continue to produce economic hardships,” the official document relates.

 

Betsy Ficklin

 

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