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State Seeks U.S. Disaster Relief for Ventura Crop Loss in Freeze

March 07, 1987

The state has applied for federal disaster relief, in the form of low-interest loans, for Ventura County farmers who suffered record crop losses during a January freeze.

Gov. George Deukmejian has recommended that Ventura, San Diego, Riverside and San Luis Obispo counties be declared disaster areas after incurring nearly $89 million in crop losses during a freeze between Jan. 10 and 22.

Ventura County farmers suffered $44.8 million in losses when temperatures dipped below freezing three consecutive nights, county officials said. The officials have predicted that agricultural production could be diminished for up to four years because of the freeze, which destroyed 15,000 acres of crops in the county.

The governor's Office of Emergency Services sent out its application for federal relief Friday. The application said avocados, citrus, strawberries, field flowers, nursery stock and vegetables were particularly hard hit.

No Deadline Set

If the state's request is approved by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, farmers would be able to apply for the loans. The federal government has no deadline for making a decision, said Nancy Hardaker, a spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Services.

Agriculture Secretary Richard E. Lyng is aware of the plight of California counties and is supportive of the request for assistance, according to Eric Rose, press secretary to state Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia).

Agriculture is Ventura County's largest industry, producing nearly $600 million in revenue annually.

The county Board of Supervisors asked Deukmejian last month to seek federal disaster relief.

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