Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that farmers across Connecticut are eligible to apply for low-interest federal loans to recover their losses caused by severe rainfall, hail and flooding this past spring. The Governor said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notified her today that he was granting her request for a disaster declaration for several counties that suffered major crop losses from May 12 to June 4, 2009. The declaration means that farmers and related small businesses can apply for low-interest emergency loans through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Governor Rell wrote to Secretary Vilsack on October 29 asking for a disaster declaration for six counties – Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, New London and Windham – affected by the severe weather. He designated all six as primary natural disaster counties and, according to federal farm law, named the adjacent counties of Tolland and Middlesex as contiguous disaster counties. (USDA letter attached). State Agriculture Commissioner F. Philip Prelli said some farmers lost more than 30 percent of their crops because of above normal rainfall and flooding. The severe weather affected a variety of crops grown in Connecticut – pumpkins, corn, tomatoes, peaches, grapes and tobacco. For more information, contact the local USDA office at (860) 871-4095 or visit www.fsa.usda.gov.